There is a shortage of cork to make corks – but the decline of real cork is due to demand falling, not supply, and the ripple effect is causing considerable ecological damage.
Harvesting real cork is environmentally friendly (the trees are not damaged, and the rest of the forest thrives), but as demand has slumped, cork farmers are cutting down the cork trees to plant alternate crops.
It is a sustainable industry. After bark is stripped off the trees, regrowth occurs which is ready to be harvested 9 years later.
A screw cap – is made from aluminium, which is very polluting to make and usually not recycled…
It has been estimated it takes as much electricity to produce one screw cap as running a TV for an hour.
PRO SCREW TOPS:
It is very wasteful tipping wine down the sink because cork taint has ruined it.
Cork taint is the mouldy flavour imparted by TCA…. therefore cork is treated with all sorts of chemicals to disinfect it… (washed with hydrogen peroxide and treated with ozone, some are glued; some are even covered with plastic to protect the wine from the cork).
The process is about the TCA, not the cork, and in a TCA-free world, cork would be a truly green industry.
On the other hand, aluminium can be endlessly recycled.
Recycling aluminium saves on 95 per cent of the energy used to make new aluminium.
So, in the scale of greenness, if you recycle your screw caps, you’re probably neck and neck with the cork pullers.
So, the lesson for us is, drink more champagne, which only uses natural cork for a stopper.