Sustainability Diaries: Chapter 1 - Cork

 

Definition:

Cork is the covering material of the species Quercus Suber L tree., world known as the cork oak.  It is composed of dead cells that form on the outer surface of the tree and has a honeycomb-like structure. Each cell is filled with air, covered in an extremely strong and flexible membrane which makes it airtight and waterproof. These species of trees mostly grown in southwest Europe and northwest Africa and can survive for 300 years, giving raw material every 9 years starting after their maturity point at 25 years old.

 

Key points:

Renewable: It is one of the most highly renewable and eco-friendly resources on the planet. It is harvested only from the bark of the tree, which means the tree keeps on living and help cleaning our air and the bark is ready to be re-harvested in 9 years.

Elasticity: Given the fact that the covering membrane is so flexible it has the tendency to return to its original shape. This makes it the best material to use for bottle stoppers- even after years of compression in the neck of a bottle, it still holds its elasticity resulting in maintaining an airtight seal.

Weight: Approximately 90% of the volume of this material is consisted by air enclosed in the micro-cells. This enclosed air sums up about 50% of its weight. This makes cork a lightweight material, about 5 times lighter than water resulting in low density and floating capabilities.

Impermeability: Corks cell membrane makes it completely impermeable to gases or liquids resulting in no rotting or degrading due to time.

Durability: The material is extremely durable and has a high friction coefficient, so it will survive repeated impacts, rubbing or abrasion.

Hypoallergenic: It does not absorb dust making it ideal when it comes to stay away from allergies.

 

How can it be used?

Industrial side: flooring and acoustic underlay, anti-vibration insulation, sealing solutions, bumpers, gaskets, shock absorbing applications, etc.

Everyday consumer: shoe insoles, mats, photo frames, safety helmet liners, bottle stoppers, dartboards, bulletin boards, cores for golf balls and baseballs, stamps, coasters, key chains or magnets. And the list can go on infinitely based on creativity.

 

Daily sustainable switches:

  • Switch plastic lids for bottles or casseroles with cork ones.
  • Give up your watch’s plastic band and move to a cork on (sustainable and fancy!)
  • Swap your plastic phone, table or laptop case with a cork one (safer from water and dust)
  • Lover of fashion? Cork made it up on the catwalk too: backpacks, purses or wallets made form this material turned accessories in a sustainability icons.

Get in contact and let us know your opinion on this material and if you want our help in choosing the right products for your business.