Posts Tagged ‘cork’

Cork – What’s It All About?

What is Cork?

Corkboards, cork bottle stoppers, cork footbeds.
We’re all familiar with these items, but what do we really know about cork?

I haven’t seen a corkboard in years. Cork stoppers in wine bottles are giving way to twist-tops and artifical stoppers. But Birkenstock cork footbeds are still the same as they always have been. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Cork is a renewable resource, so harvesting cork doesn’t destroy forests. Better than that, Birkenstock uses by-products of the wine industry. I guess that makes using cork a good thing. But where does cork come from?

The Cork Oak is a medium-sized, evergreen oak tree and is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The tree has a thick, insulating bark that may have been the Cork Oak’s evolutionary answer to forest fires. The tree forms a thick, rugged bark which can develop to a considerable thickness and can be harvested every 9 to 12 years to produce cork. The harvesting of cork does not harm the tree, in fact, no trees are cut down during the harvesting process. Only the bark is extracted, and a new layer of cork regrows, making it a renewable resource.

Today every part of the cork harvest is put to use. Leftovers from the bottle cork stamping process are ground down in various sizes and then sorted by quality. Birkenstock ground cork comes from the first quality by-products of the wine industry. The cork-latex mixture (the main component of the Birkenstock footbed) is made in small batches to minimize any waste. Any excess is recycled.

Birkenstock is still using both natural cork and natural latex in their footbeds as they have since the very beginning. It’s good to see something like this that has been working so well for so long. The cork-latex mixture is a wonderful combination that adapts to the individual wearer, molding to the feet over a short period of time. The cork-latex footbed feels good much like that old pair of jeans feels good.

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Regards,

Dave