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Rives J.,Inedit Innovacio SL UAB Research Park | Rives J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Fernandez-Rodriguez I.,Catalan Cork Institute | Rieradevall J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Gabarrell X.,Autonomous University of Barcelona
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2013

This study presents an environmental analysis of the cork sector by integrating and evaluating the production of the products that are most commonly made of cork: natural cork stoppers, champagne cork stoppers, white cork granulate and black cork granulate, in order to propose environmental strategies that could contribute to minimising the potential impacts of the cork sector. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was the methodology used in order to assess the potential environmental impacts of the cork sector and its main products. Inventory was supported by 15 companies in Catalonia. Different environmental midpoint impact categories were reported and analysed according to CML 2001 method such as Abiotic Depletion (ADP), Acidification Potential (AP), Eutrophication Potential (EP), and many other. Also, the Global Warming Potential (GWP 100 years), was assessed, and it was found that the cork sector contributed to fixing carbon dioxide and consequently can help to mitigate climate change, besides generating cork products. Specifically, 3.4 tonnes of CO2 eq. were emitted to convert a tonne of raw cork from the forest into products, while 18 tonnes of CO2 are fixed per tonne as a result of the existence of cork oak forests; the resulting balance was that 14.6 tonnes of CO2 are fixed. A sensitivity analysis was carried out of the distribution of environmental impacts between products; it was observed that allocation rules were an important point of the assessment. The use of cork, a natural, renewable and local material, can help to reduce the environmental impact of products. The use of cork stoppers contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of beverages such as wines, champagnes, beers, ciders, brandies and many other beverages. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Angels Olivella M.,University of Girona | Jove P.,Catalan Cork Institute | Sen A.,University of Lisbon | Pereira H.,University of Lisbon | And 2 more authors.
BioResources | Year: 2011

Quercus cerris is an important oak species extended in large areas of Eastern Europe and Minor Asia that has a thick bark which is not utilized at all. The sorption performance of cork from Quercus cerris bark with four polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, and anthracene) was investigated. Quercus cerris cork was characterized for elemental analysis, acidic groups, and summative chemical composition, and the results were compared with Quercus suber cork. A Microtox® test was carried out to test for the release of any toxic compounds into the solution. All isotherms fit the Freundlich model and displayed linear n values. Quercus cerris exhibited a high efficiency for sorption of PAHs for the studied concentrations (5 to 50 μg/L) with 80-96% removal, while the desorption isotherms showed a very low release of the adsorbed PAHs (<2%). In relation to Quercus suber cork, KF values of Quercus cerris cork are about three times lower. The quantity of Quercus cerris cork required to reduce water pollution by PAHs was estimated to be less than twice the quantity of other adsorbents such as aspen wood and leonardite. Toxicity tests indicated that non-toxic compounds were released into the solution by the Quercus cerris and Quercus suber cork samples. Overall the results indicate the potential use of Quercus cerris cork and of Quercus suber cork as effective and economical biosorbents for the treatment of PAH-contaminated waters.

Rives J.,University of Barcelona | Fernandez-Rodriguez I.,Catalan Cork Institute | Rieradevall J.,University of Barcelona | Gabarrell X.,University of Barcelona
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2011

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.

Rives J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Fernandez-Rodriguez I.,Catalan Cork Institute | Gabarrell X.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Rieradevall J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona
Resources, Conservation and Recycling | Year: 2012

Cork is a natural and renewable material extracted mainly in the Western Mediterranean area. Apart from natural cork stoppers and discs, the most important product of the cork sector is cork granulate, because it represents a solution for the large quantities of waste generated during natural cork industry production and during forestry activities. Cork granulates have not yet been studied from an environmental perspective, although this ecomaterial could substitute other non-renewable and more harmful materials, such as petroleum derivates. This study presents an environmental analysis of the production of cork granulates, following the life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. All the operations after forest management were analysed, from the extraction of the resources to the use of these intermediate products. Research also sought to identify the operations that contribute most to potential environmental impact during production. Inventory data was collected from three representative local producers that all use standard technology. Regarding environmental burdens, trituration and classification-sieving were the operations which contribute most to the environmental impact of granulate production; together representing between 90% and 97% of the environmental burdens for the studied categories. It was also stated that 35% of the initial raw material that enters the system became dust during production. Cork dust is a potential material that can be used as a fuel to substitute other non-renewable sources of energy such as diesel oil or electricity. However, it was observed that the use of this waste as an energy source was still at an incipient point of implantation. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Rives J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Fernandez-Rodriguez I.,Catalan Cork Institute | Rieradevall J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Gabarrell X.,Autonomous University of Barcelona
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2012

Champagne cork stoppers are a product made basically from cork, a natural and renewable resource extracted from cork oak forests in western Mediterranean regions. Each stopper is made up of an agglomerated cork body and two natural cork discs. In 2009, 60% of the world's champagne cork stoppers were produced in Catalonia, due to the importance of cava, champagne and other sparkling wines in neighbouring areas. The aim of this research was to provide environmental reference data on champagne cork stoppers production, and identify the industrial stages and operations that made the greatest impact. This research was carried out using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, and five of the most representative producers were analysed. The system considered all the processes involved in production after the forest management stage and one million champagne cork stoppers were taken as a functional unit (FU). Results showed that 53,886 kg of CO 2 eq. were emitted to produce the FU. It was observed that the champagne cork stopper manufacture stage represented between 57 and 67% of the environmental impact, depending on the category. Specifically, between 25 and 47% of the environmental impacts associated with this stage were caused by the body agglomeration operation, and between 21 and 29% were caused by the gluing of discs. On the other hand, some of the production stages such as the transport of raw cork and intermediate products, cork slab preparation or end of life stages represented a very small part of the total environmental impact of the product, less than 2%. Furthermore, it was observed that a champagne cork stopper produced by the most impacting company presented a higher impact, between 10 and 27% above the sector average, depending on the impact category; while the least impacting company presented between 12 and 32% less impact. These differences indicate that some companies can improve their production by adopting technology and production practices that some of their competitors have already put in place. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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