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Cork: A Sustainability Story

February 16, 2021

This extra­or­di­nary nat­ur­al resource has been around for thou­sands of years and is part of Portugal’s her­itage. Remains from arti­facts rang­ing from women’s footwear to cask stop­pers to roof­ing dat­ing from the fourth cen­tu­ry BC prove its poten­tial. One of the first ref­er­ences to the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the cork oak tree was made by the Greek philoso­pher Theophras­tus, amazed with the abil­i­ty that this tree has to renew its bark after it has been removed”.

Cork inspiration

All cork comes from a live” oak tree that is stripped of its bark and regen­er­ates every 9 to10 years. New bark is then allowed to grow while main­tain­ing the forest’s eco­log­i­cal process. Strip­ping is a man­u­al process and the trees are nev­er cut down. The cork used for our uphol­stery and wall­cov­er­ing tex­tiles is cus­tom­ar­i­ly select­ed from the yield of trees that are 80 to 120 years old. Our cork prod­ucts come from Por­tu­gal and Spain, where laws pro­tect thou­sands of acres of for­est. In turn, these forests pro­tect hun­dreds of species of birds, ani­mals, and plants. There is enough cork today in Portugal’s forests to last more than 100 years, and the cork indus­try sus­tains more than 15,000 employ­ees in remote areas.

Cork’s har­vest­ing process is heav­i­ly leg­is­lat­ed and reg­u­lat­ed. From the acorns to the leaves to the branch­es to the tan­nins con­tained in the wood, noth­ing is wast­ed from the cork oak tree. Raw cork is 100% biodegrad­able, recy­clable, and renew­able. The final prod­uct is processed free of arti­fi­cial chem­i­cals, con­flict min­er­als, flame retar­dants, phtha­lates, and solvents. 

As an uphol­stery tex­tile, cork is high-per­form­ing, meet­ing all ACT stan­dards. Its intrin­sic qual­i­ties make it imper­me­able to liq­uids, mildew-resis­tant, hypo-aller­genic, and a good insu­la­tor. Wolf-Gor­don offers a broad selec­tion of cork tex­tile pat­terns and col­ors, which can be used for uphol­stery as well as wallcoverings.