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CO2 captured by cork enough to offset footprint of glass

An Amorim cork life-cycle assessment released exclusively to db today has shown that a cork stopper retains enough carbon to offset the amount released during the production of a glass wine bottle.

A Champagne stopper retains almost double the amount of carbon as a standard natural cork due to the higher amount of cork used in its construction, such as the double disc at its base

Following a study commissioned by Corticeira Amorim, but independently conducted by Ernst & Young during December 2019, it has been revealed that a single natural cork stopper is proven to capture up to 309g of CO2, while a sparkling wine stopper can retain even more at 562g (due to the greater amount of cork used in its production).

According to Amorim, this means that cork closures can offset the carbon footprint of glass bottles, which release between 300-500g of CO2 on average during production, depending of course on their weight*.

As a result, the cork producer, which is the largest in the world, is reminding the wine industry that cork closures are a major ally in the trade’s battle for sustainability.

Speaking to db this morning, Carlos De Jesus, who is marketing & communication director of Amorim, said that the results of the study “were good for cork, and good for Amorim especially, but it [the level of carbon retained in cork stoppers] is not fully realised by wineries and distilleries that use cork.”

Continuing, he said, “We want to get across the idea that wineries, when assessing their carbon footprint, should include all the packaging materials used and the carbon retained in them… and a company that has bought several million corks is sitting on large reservoir of carbon, so they should account for that.”

According to Amorim, different life cycle stages under a cradle-to-gate approach were studied. The processes included forest management activities, cork treatment stages including transport from the forest, and natural cork stoppers production, finishing and packaging. For a fair comparison with previous studies, the distribution of the product from Portugal to the UK was also included, together with additional information regarding carbon sequestration from the cork oak forests.

Impacts relating to the production and consumption of raw materials, plus energy process emissions, water consumption, waste production and transport at each stage were assessed – all of which are considered categories typically used in cork products.

The drinks business will be bringing its readers more news from this study soon.

* An estimated 400g of CO2 are released per 75cl glass bottle produced, according to a study by Smyth & Russell.
Smyth, M., and J. Russell. ‘From Graft to Bottle’ – Analysis of Energy Use in Viticulture and Wine Production and the Potential for Solar Renewable Technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Pergamon, 12 Feb. 2009. Web. 25 Oct. 2018

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