Environmental analysis of cork granulate production in Catalonia - Northern Spain

Jesús Rives, Ivan Fernandez-Rodriguez, Xavier Gabarrell, Joan Rieradevall

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Cork is a natural and renewable material extracted mainly in the Western Mediterranean area. Apart from natural cork stoppers and discs, the most important product of the cork sector is cork granulate, because it represents a solution for the large quantities of waste generated during natural cork industry production and during forestry activities. Cork granulates have not yet been studied from an environmental perspective, although this ecomaterial could substitute other non-renewable and more harmful materials, such as petroleum derivates. This study presents an environmental analysis of the production of cork granulates, following the life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. All the operations after forest management were analysed, from the extraction of the resources to the use of these intermediate products. Research also sought to identify the operations that contribute most to potential environmental impact during production. Inventory data was collected from three representative local producers that all use standard technology. Regarding environmental burdens, trituration and classification-sieving were the operations which contribute most to the environmental impact of granulate production; together representing between 90% and 97% of the environmental burdens for the studied categories. It was also stated that 35% of the initial raw material that enters the system became dust during production. Cork dust is a potential material that can be used as a fuel to substitute other non-renewable sources of energy such as diesel oil or electricity. However, it was observed that the use of this waste as an energy source was still at an incipient point of implantation. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-142
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Cork granulate
  • Ecomaterial
  • Environmental impact
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Mediterranean


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