The wine industry has developed greatly over recent years, and it could be stated that what was once a traditional industry has become a very productive and technical sector. One aspect that has not been studied until now is the cork stopper, despite the fact that most wine bottles are sealed with this product, and practically all corks are produced in the Iberian Peninsula. This study presents the environmental analysis of the production of natural cork stoppers, using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The research was supported by data from four Catalan representative companies and all the stages involved in the production after the forest management have been taken into account. The purpose of this research was to provide reference data for the Catalan cork industrial sector (Northeast Spain), and also contribute to deciding which aspects of natural cork stopper production must be improved and further researched. Another objective of this research was to emphasise and demonstrate that LCA methodology could be an interesting tool for improving traditional industry, from a cleaner production perspective. Results could be used by other sector companies to analyse and compare themselves with in order to know if they could improve their production with the current available technology. Impact assessment results indicate that the manufacturing stage was the stage causing the greatest impact, but also an evaluation of the influence of the initial transport from the forest reveals that this stage could notably increase the impact when raw cork was moved from distant forests. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Cork sector
- Environmental impact