Environmental Policy - Wine Bottle Closures
There is a major debate about in the wine world about the green impact of closures. The two types of bottle closure used on our wines are corks and screwcaps.
Wine corks are an entirely natural product. They are made from the bark of portuguese cork oaks, which can be removed from the tree without hurting it. After about 9 years the harvesting can be repeated.
The cork oaks roots hold the soil together in Portugal's increasingly extreme climate, where deluges of rain can be followed by many weeks entirely without rain.
Not only is there none of the creeping desertification that marks much of the southern Iberian peninsula these days, there is also an abundance of life.
Between the oaks, wildflowers flourish, sustaining bees and honey production.
Some of the animal, bird and insect life is unique to the cork forest.
Mushrooms are harvested that sprout from the root fibres. Livestock like sheep and pigs feast on acorns in the autumn and in turn help fertilise the soil.
The cut bark is slowly dried out in the sun, boiled, graded, shaped and cut.
The best - single unadulterated chunks of natural cork - will be safeguarding the finest red wines as they mature for decades. The shabbier parts will be chopped up into little pieces and re-shaped into an amalgam that might seal a bottle of beer or tile-cover a bathroom floor.
Used corks are fully biodegradable, because they are tree bark.
Screwcaps are a modern alternative to corks developed for the new world wine industry. They are helpful for keeping early drinking white wine fresher, and are cheaper to use.
Screwcaps are made from aluminium, a highly abundant metal and have a recycled content in the region of 30%. They are fully recyclable.
Screwcaps have a carbon footprint of about 4 times the size of cork closures, (approx 10,6kg of CO2 v 2.5kg of CO2 per tonne of closures).
By way of comparison, one recent environmental study found that an individual cheeseburger has a carbon footprint of 3.06kg of CO2, including transportation of the raw materials and carbon emitted during the cooking process.
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