Described as the premium spirits market’s first sustainable alternative to conventional plastic closures, including biodegradable options, Amorim’s RE-Cork, the newest collection to launch in the Portugal-based supplier’s Top Series portfolio, is targeting eco-conscious luxury brands.
Developed by Amorim’s Cork Composite R&D division, RE-Cork offers a cork-based stopper solution whose offer ranges from those made of fully recycled (and therefore recyclable) materials to closures of 100% natural origin that can be composted at end-of-life. Choosing cork as the star material was a logical move for the company. “Cork is an integral part of Amorim’s DNA and being a renewable material, it is also sustainable by nature. Our aim over the years has been to fully optimize our use of the material. With RE-Cork this has become a reality; the cork content that makes up the capsule is composed of granules that are a byproduct of our production,” explains Christophe Sauvaud, Managing Director of Amorim Top Series, the business unit dedicated to premium closures.
Technically, RE-Cork’s capsule ranges from 30% to 50% cork content resulting from in-house manufacturing, with the remainder either a bio-based polymer (sourced from potato or beet starch, for example) or alternately recycled plastic. The first solution is said to be biodegradable and compostable, while the second option is simply recyclable.
RE-Cork stoppers are also lighter-weight than previous generation stoppers, and call for a lower expenditure of energy during the injection molding process.
Decoration-wise, while the color spectrum is more limited than with wood or plastic capsules, RE-Cork can undergo a wide number of traditional processes, such as pad printing, embossing, debossing and engraving. The size of the cork granules in the stopper also has an aesthetic impact: the larger the granules, the rougher the look — ideal for craft-type brands — while small granules result in a smoother, almost plastic-like surface. These variations were behind the creation of RE-Cork’s five different grades:
· RE-Cork R: cork granules + 100% recycled and recyclable polymer
· RE-Cork B: cork granules + 100% bio-based and recyclable polymers
· RE-Cork BHC: cork granules + 100% bio-based, home compostable polymers
· RE-Cork BIC: cork granules + 100% bio-based, industrially compostable sugar-based polymer (PLA)
In response to the question of price, and in light of the fact that sustainable solutions still remain a more costly option, Sauvaud says that RE-Cork is less expensive than a wooden capsule, but more expensive than conventional plastic.
So what are Amorim’s expectations for RE-Cork in the long-term? “This is an ambitious project that was several years in the making and we aim to see it develop into much more than an add-on offer. It's the way forward!” concludes Sauvaud.