Cork, once thought of as the material of dartboards and wine stoppers, has become increasingly popular for its warm, natural, DIY-appeal, its eco-friendly cred and its industrial utility. From high fashion to eco flooring and space-age technology, cork is now being used in many surprising ways.
What is cork? Cork, interestingly enough, is a vegetable tissue harvested from the bark of cork oak trees found primarily in Mediterranean regions – most notably Portugal.
It takes 25 years for cork oak trunks to start to produce cork. Cork harvesting is a highly specialized process done by skilled “debarkers” to preserve the health of the trees. The first stripping of a cork oak produces a cork of irregular quality referred to as “virgin cork,” which is used in a variety of commercial applications, but not suitable for cork stopper manufacture. (Cork stopper production is guided by strict guidelines defined by the International Cork Stopper Manufacturing Practice.)
Cork can be harvested from a cork oak every nine years, but cork suitable for the production of quality cork stopper (with a regular structure that is smooth inside and out) is only produced from the third harvest on [via APCOR].