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Conclusion

Currently, cork, as well as the exploitation and the industry of cork, seem to be threatened. The main cause of this threat is the use of synthetic stoppers and screwcaps in increasing quantities with the aim of replacing the classic cork stopper. Cheaper and with fewer problems of defective bottles, in certain cases the alternative solutions present a competitive advantage over cork.

However, they are not natural products and are even less biodegradable products. Cork remains the only natural material for wine stoppers. Recycling also becomes a strong communication tool in favour of cork.

According to a WWF study, 95% of bottles risk being sealed with aluminium or plastic within 20 years and the production of cork in 2020 will be but two thirds of the present rate.

The first consequence of this phenomenon is a crash in the price of cork, a decrease in the exploitation of cork-oak forests which would eventually cease being managed and disappear in certain regions. The production zone of cork extends throughout the entire Mediterranean surface (Portugal, Spain, Morocco and France) and if WWF’s predictions are confirmed the consequences will be dramatic. It is equally important to note that the traditional removal of cork does not affect the health of the tree and in fact actually favours the economic renewal of this forest resource.

The current and future challenge for cork is to maintain its dominant position as a method of sealing wine bottles. The establishment of cork recycling campaigns would allow the consumer’s awareness to be raised in the ecological interest of cork.