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A sustainable leadership

“Completely natural, reusable and recyclable, cork is perfectly aligned with the environmental awareness of contemporary society.”

Corticeira Amorim pursues an exemplary economic activity in terms of sustainable development. By promoting cyclical harvesting of cork, without damaging the trees, the company ensures that the cork oak forest is a viable, natural and renewable resource, with endless environmental, economic and social benefits.

Cork oak forests are natural CO2 sinks, they regulate the hydrological cycle, protect against erosion and fire, and foster a level of biodiversity comparable to regions such as Amazonia, Borneo and the African savanna. Cork harvesting maintains the vitality of cork oak forests and fosters the associated economic, environmental and social development, enabling thousands of people to continue to live and work in arid and semi-arid areas. This three-dimensional contribution enables cork to stand out as one of the world’s greatest sustainable raw materials.

Positive Impact on Carbon Balance

During 2019, Corticeira Amorim commissioned anindependent study of its carbon footprint. Considering the carbon sink effect of the cork oak forest, made viable by the cork industry, the results show that annual carbon sequestration can be 17 times higher than the amount of greenhouse gas emitted across the entire value chain of Corticeira Amorim´s business activity. In other words, at a time when carbon neutrality constitutes one of society's biggest challenges to safeguard Planet Earth, Corticeira Amorim pursues a business activity that aims for a positive impact in climate regulation, promoting highest levels of CO2 capture than emissions.

 Combatting Climate Change

The cork oak is a slow-growing species that plays an important role in capturing CO2. Its roots, leaves, trunk and bark - cork - store CO2 throughout the tree’s life, on average 200 years. Cork products also maintain this storage capacity throughout their entire life cycle, enabling the reduction of the carbon footprint of various applications.
The conclusions of a group of researchers at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA) confirm the important role played by the cork oak and its surrounding ecosystem: for each ton of cork produced, the cork oak forest can capture up to 73 tons of CO2.

 Circular Economy

Totally natural, reusable and recyclable, cork is perfectly aligned with contemporary society’s growing ecological awareness. Corticeira Amorim has implemented an integrated production process, through which it ensures reuse of all sub-products associated to cork processing. There are therefore no forms of cork waste or residues, giving a new dimension to the old maxim that "nothing is lost, everything [returns to the productive process and] is transformed". In fact, this concept, that is currently the basis of the Circular Economy, has been applied in Corticeira Amorim since 1963, a year in which an industrial unit for the production of cork grains and agglomerates was formed with the objective of transforming 70% of the waste generated from the manufacture of cork stoppers - until then only marginally used.

The company also supports various initiatives to collect and recycle cork across five continents. Although no trees are cut during the entire cork production process, some of these recycling programmes, in particular the Green Cork programme in Portugal, favor re-planting autochtonous trees in endangered areas, in particular cork oak trees.

Since cork is a material that promotes synergies with other materials and by-products, whenever possible, materials recycled from other industries are used as raw material, thereby saving the planet’s natural resources and reducing problems associated with their elimination.

Environmeltal, Social and Economic Impacts

Corticeira Amorim, aware of the impact of its operations in the regions where it operates and in the Portuguese economy, developed a study, with the support of EY, with the aim of assessing this impact. The study calculated the direct, indirect and induced impacts, including the environmental impacts of its activity and the impacts of the ecosystem services of the montado made possible by it, concluding that the total net value contributions to society are greater than 1.175 billion euros per year. This value is more than seven times higher than the direct value added by the activity in Portugal. The results reinforce Corticeira Amorim's commitment to maximizing its value by creating jobs and opportunities, innovating and diversifying products and supporting the promotion of responsible management of the forest and the use of natural resources. The value created by Corticeira Amorim is also translated by its multiplier - each euro produced by Corticeira Amorim generates, in total, 2.17 euros in national production.

Sustainable Forest Management

“Aware of the uniqueness of the cork sector, Corticeira Amorim undertakes the responsibility of preserving a unique, precious asset - the cork oak forest”

Corticeira Amorim identifies sustainable management of the cork oak forest as a strategic priority. In this context, it seeks to raise awareness amongst forest producers of the need to conserve the cork oak forest and adopt good practices that improve the fundamental ecosystems services that provide sustenance to the entire population, encouraging good agricultural and forestry practices.

It is the first company in the cork industry to hold Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) Chain-of-Custody certificates and Corticeira Amorim was the first packaging company in the world to achieve this certification.

 Forestry Intervention Programme

Since 2013, Corticeira Amorim has organised and coordinated a Forestry Intervention Programme, developed in close partnership with forestry producers, research institutions and local authorities that aims to ensure the maintenance, preservation and enhancement of cork oak forests and guarantee continuous production of high-quality cork.

The initiative covers a number of important areas of intervention, developed under the motto "taking care of the present, building the future", and is based on the following guidelines:

  • development of irrigation systems with improved installation;
  • sequencing the genome of the cork oak tree;
  • improvement of the cork oak tree;
  • fighting pests and diseases.

This is a project of great importance for Corticeira Amorim, not only because of the impact in terms of change of land use, but also because it marks the beginning of the company’s journey as a forest owner, through the purchase of a farm. The purchase of the company Cosabe in 2018, owner of the Herdade da Baliza estate, which spans a total area of 2866 hectares, will help promote and spread the implementation of new techniques for managing the national cork oak forest.

Economic

Corticeira Amorim asserts itself, every day, as one of the world’s leading companies.

Thanks to unparalleled R&D+i investments, the company has a varied portfolio of sustainable products that are used by leading clients in industries as diverse – and demanding – as aerospace, automotive, construction, interior and fashion design and wines & spirits, which confirms the excellence of cork as a raw material, while responding to key contemporary challenges – benefiting people, the planet and the sustained growth of organisations.

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Social

One of Corticeira Amorim's core values is human resource motivation and creating the conditions for the organisation's success, alongside that of its employees.

In the area of social responsibility, which encompasses the themes of Human Capital Management and Occupational Health, Hygiene and Safety, Corticeira Amorim undertakes the responsibility to develop the qualifications and competences of employees, providing them with working environment that is safe, healthy, free from discriminatory judgements and balanced from a physical, social and psychological perspective. 

 

Environmental

The company's contribution to environmental sustainability includes aspects of Sustainable Management of Cork and Energy Efficiency and Climate Change through, on one hand, the promotion of cork solutions and the preservation of cork oak forests and, on the other the implementation of technologies and Eco-efficient products and processes.

Various units are certified according to national and international standards and numerous investments have made it possible to increase process efficiency and improve the monitoring which lead carbon emissions to be reduced while ensuring the reuse of all sub-products resulting from the processing of cork.

Even the smallest grains are used as an important source of energy.

The company also supports various cork recycling programmes.