In which container is CORK thrown? - find out

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Spain is the second largest producer of cork in the world, after Portugal, and has a quarter of the world's cork trees. Recycling cork would be a great way to support this sector, which is in danger due to the substitution of synthetic materials and the environmental threats suffered by cork oak forests (the tree from which cork is obtained). Furthermore, recycling it would also offer environmental benefits.

But, In which container is the cork thrown away for its correct treatment? In this Green Ecologist article we will tell you about it.

In which container is natural cork thrown?

As stated by Ecoembes (the system that manages the recycling of packaging in Spain), the consumer must deposit the products made with natural cork at organic container, the brown container, so as not to hinder the recycling of the containers, but they ensure that they receive very few corks. The recovery companies are then in charge of managing it and sending it to controlled landfills or to some energy recovery system.

Corks that have already been used cannot be reused, especially if they have contained liquids or have been in contact with food or other organic or inorganic materials that leave residues, since they are deteriorated or with product remains and the industries cannot re-admit them. Although it would be possible to recycle it, that is, to take advantage of the material after treating it properly. However, there is a lack of a recovery system such as that of glass or containers and, although there is some experience in this regard, there is currently no good structure for recycling cork and doing so, for the moment, would be expensive and could contaminate more .

Recycling unused cork has advantages for the environment and economical. It supposes a saving of resources, transformation or transport. In addition, when it is possible to recycle even used natural cork, apart from the advantages already mentioned, green jobs would also be generated in this sector.

While used natural cork cannot yet be recycled well, we give you several Ideas to reuse cork stoppers, one of the most used products made with this material.

White cork, polystyrene or polystyrene

The white cork or expanded polystyrene (EPS), also called polystyrene or polystyrene, is a foamed plastic material, which is derived from polystyrene and is used to make containers and packaging or as thermal and acoustic insulation in construction.

Among its characteristics are its lightness, hygiene, resistance to humidity, salts, acids or fats and its ability to absorb impacts, which makes it an ideal material for packaging fragile products. In addition, as it is not a nutritive substrate for microorganisms, it does not rot, mold or decompose. This makes it an ideal material for packaging fresh products, so we can easily find them in the form of a tray in vegetables, fruits, butchers, fishmongers or ice cream parlors.

In supermarkets we can easily find it in the form of a tray in the fishmonger, butcher, fruit, vegetable and ice cream parlor sections.

How is white cork recycled?

White cork or polystyrene is a totally recyclable and 100% reusable material. With it, you can form blocks of the same material and make raw materials for use in other products. After use, it must be deposited in the yellow container which goes to plastic packaging.

Three main methods are known for the recycling white cork:

  • The main recycling method, which has been used for decades, consists of mechanically shredding the material and subsequently mixing it with new material to form EPS blocks that contain up to 50% recycled material.
  • Another technology currently applied for recycling is mechanical densification, which consists of applying thermal and mechanical energy to the foams to transform them into more compact particles that can be handled more easily.
  • New methods are also being explored to dissolve foams in different solvents for easier handling.

The cork sector in Spain

As we said, Spain is one of the main world producers of cork and the main cork oak forests are located along the Mediterranean coast, Extremadura and Andalusia. The cork sector It is a particular industry that is favorable even for biodiversity, because the disappearance of the cork oaks it would mean serious damage to the environment. For example, the biodiversity of hundreds of animals and plants would suffer, the natural environment would be more exposed to erosion and desertification, the capacity to absorb CO2 would be lost, rural employment would fall or the beautiful Mediterranean landscape would be damaged.

According to its managers, this sector employs around 3,000 people and that in addition to producing stoppers (85% of business volume), different industries use cork for its insulating properties, its buoyancy and its lightness.

If you want to read more articles similar to In which container is the cork thrown?, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.

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