Cork is an impermeable, buoyant material, a prime-subset of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber (the Cork Oak), which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.
Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance, and because of its impermeable, buoyant, elastic, and fire retardant properties, it is used in a variety of products, the most common of which is for wine stoppers.
The montado landscape of Portugal produces approximately 50% of cork harvested annually worldwide,
with Corticeira Amorim being the leading company in the industry.
There are about 2,200,000 hectares of cork forest world wide; 34% in Portugal and 27% in Spain. Annual production is about 200,000 tons; 49.6% from Portugal, 30.5% from Spain, 5.8% from Morocco, 4.9% from Algeria, 3.5% from Tunisia, 3.1% Italy, and 2.6% from France.
Once the trees are about 25 years old the cork is traditionally stripped from the trunks every nine years, with the first two harvests generally producing lower quality cork. The trees live for about 200 years.
The cork industry is generally regarded as environmentally friendly.
Cork production is generally considered sustainable due to the fact that the cork tree is not cut down to obtain cork, rather only the bark is stripped to harvest the cork.The tree continues to live and grow.
The sustainability of production and the easy recycling of cork products and by-products are two of its most distinctive aspects. Cork Oak forests also prevent desertification and are a particular habitat in the Iberian Peninsula and the refuge of various endangered species.
Designers have been adopted this innovation material in shoes, clothes, accessories, bags....