Cork is actually one of the more sustainable products out there. The cork itself is made form the bark of the cork oak tree, which is carefully pried off by hand when the tree reaches the age of about 25 years. Although stripping the bark leaves the tree vulnerable for a time, this way the cork is harvested without cutting down or causing serious damage to the tree. These trees tend to live for about 150-250 years, so they can be harvested for long periods of time. Countries like Portugal and Spain, which produce large amounts of cork, are very protective of their cork tree forests.
Not necessarily. Natural corks actually have some environmental benefits. Since cork trees are not cut down, they absorb CO2 and support a wide range of bird species while still providing jobs. A synthetic stopper has ten times the impact of a natural cork, and a screw cap has twenty four times the impact.
In recent years wine lovers have been switching over to screw tops because of natural corks can cause “taint”. Usually ca result of the chemical TCA, taint makes wine smell like wet dog or moldy newspapers. Companies such as the Portuguese Amorim and the French company Oeneo have developed corks that do not cause taint.
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