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ACI Cork USA Announces Eco Progress in Producing Natural Cork Wine Stoppers

Date: 02/11/10

Water usage reduction of 17% in two years makes cork wine stoppers from ACI CORK USA a closure alternative that is more environmentally friendly than any other option available in the wine industry today. Statistics recently released by ACI CORK USA show that the production facilities of parent company Àlvaro Coelho & Irmãos, S.A., in Portugal have greatly reduced water used per kilo of corks produced. (See chart below)

Vineyard managers and wineries know the value and importance of water conservation, re-use and recycling. Water rights issues and climate change has resulted in concerns about water availability and quality all through the winemaking system, and now ACI CORK reports significant reduction in their water consumption in cork processing.

The sealed autoclave process, NBS, used by ACI in its cork processing plants not only assures high quality clean cork, but also is more conservative of water than other types of cork processing systems. ACI recycles all water from its cork processing and cork finishing plants.

Àlvaro Coelho & Irmãos, S.A., has achieved its 17% water reduction per kilo of corks produced in several ways: they have optimized the amount of water used in cork production (sorting, washing and other production processes), and tightened up the supply system to assure water conservation practices all through the company including both industrial and domestic wastewaters.
The sustainable and ecological benefits of ACI's cork as natural wine stoppers are already well known. Portugal accounts for one-third of the world's cork oak forest area, and Portuguese foresters have added 3.3% more acreage in the past 10 years, to 736,700 hectares (1,820,400 acres) under cultivation.

Cork oak trees "fix" huge amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Calculated on a basis of tons of natural cork stoppers, 2 tons of CO-2 is fixed per one ton of cork stoppers produced. An average of 357,145 stoppers is produced per 1.3 acres of dense cork oak forest. The regenerating bark of the cork oak is harvested under stringent guidelines at the rate of only once every 9 years.
In the water conservation arena, ACI augments its progress in water consumption reduction by going one step further: treating wastewater in its own water treatment plant so that water can be forwarded back to the water supply company pre-cleansed for final treatment.

The ACI treatment plant technology is based on biological treatment with a macrophytes layer. Macrophytest are aquatic plants that are introduced into sealed treatment tanks, and they produce oxygen and remove contaminants. In the treatment process, wastewaters enter a septic tank where the pH is adjusted, and the water is filtered in a way that suspended solids are retained. This filtered water proceeds through a series of tanks with machrophytes where bioload and other contaminants are eliminated. This water then goes back to the water supply company for final treatment. After treatment in the regional facility, the water from ACI's cork wine stopper production facilities can be totally re-used.

Below: Water Treatment at ACI Cork in Portugal


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