Cork vs. Artificial Closures - Evaluation of the environmental impacts

Evaluation of the environmental impacts of Cork Stoppers versus Aluminium and Plastic Closures

Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminium and Plastic Wine Closures

Corticeira Amorim has requested the aid of PricewaterhouseCoopers/Ecobilan to quantify and compare the environmental impacts of cork stoppers versus aluminium and plastic closures on the UK market of wine. The closures considered in this study were: the Natural cork stopper produced by Amorim & Irmãos1 in Portugal (Santa Maria de Lamas) with dimensions 45mm X 24 mm and 3,5 g of weight; a typical aluminium closure produced in France with dimensions 60 mm x 30 mm and 4,6 g of weight and a typical plastic closure produced in Belgium with dimensions 43 mm x 22 mm and 6,2 g of weight.

The survey was carried out using the methodology of life cycle analysis (LCA) supported by data from the different process units of Corticeira Amorim and from bibliographic sources, namely internet research, and complemented using the Ecobilan LCA database.

This survey does not use proprietary information from the producers of aluminium and plastic closures.

Life cycle analysis is a standard method which allows evaluation of the potential impacts of a product or service on the environment during all stages of its life, from the extraction of natural resources to final waste processing. The survey was carried out in conformance with the ISO 14040 series of standards.

To evaluate the potential impacts of natural and synthetic wine closures on the environment, the survey proposed seven indicators: non-renewable energy consumption; water consumption; emission of greenhouse gases; contribution to atmospheric acidification; contribution to the formation of photochemical oxidants (ozone layer depletion); contribution to the eutrophication of surface water and production of solid waste.

On completion of this survey Corticeira Amorim intends to publish this study to the public, in accordance to ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, and submit it to a critical review by an independent committee including external experts and interested parties:

  • An independent life cycle analysis (LCA) expert (Mr. Yvan Liziard);
  • An independent specialist on cork (Mr. João Santos Pereira, from Instituto Superior de Agronomia of Universidade Técnica de Lisboa);
  • Plastic association (Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe).

Besides these entities, an aluminium association was also contacted, but did not accept to cooperate in the review process.

The comments of the various members of the independent committee to the temporary version of this LCA report are presented in section VI, together with the corresponding response of PwC/Ecobilan.

Read more:

Final Report (1.2 MB)

Presentation (1.3 MB)