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Bark from initial harvests can be used to make flooring, shoes, insulation and other industrial products.
Subsequent extractions usually occur at intervals of 9 years, though it can take up to 13 for the cork to reach an acceptable size.
The cork industry is generally regarded as environmentally friendly.
Cork production is considered sustainable because the cork tree is not cut down to obtain cork; only the bark is stripped to harvest the cork. The sustainability of production and the easy recycling of cork products and by-products are two of its most distinctive aspects.
~Cork’s bubble-form structure and natural fire retardant make it suitable for acoustic and thermal insulation in house walls, floors, ceilings and facades.
~The Cork Oak is unrelated to the “cork trees” (Phellodendron), which have corky bark but are not used for cork production.
The cork is stacked in piles in the forest or in yards at a factory, and traditionally, left to dry, after which it can be loaded onto a truck and shipped to a processor.
Cork has an incredibly unique physical makeup, as it is composed of closed cells containing air, suberin, and ceroids.If the product is of high quality it is known as “gentle” cork (Portuguese cortiça amadia, but also cortiça secundeira only if it is the second time; Spanish corcho segundero, also restricted to the “second time”), and, ideally, is used to make stoppers for wine and champagne bottles.The workers who specialize in removing the cork are known as extractors.Despite its many different uses, for centuries the most faithful ambassador of cork to the world has been the natural cork stopper, that seal of exceptional quality that is still today preferred and demanded by the great wine producers.However, throughout History there have been numerous references to this product and its varied applications.
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The sale of cork and cork products by producers, to the European and United States market, exceeds $1.5 billion annually.