Cork is harvested for use from the Cork Oak tree, Quercus suber, with Portugal producing 50% of cork worldwide. Cork's elasticity combined with its near-impermeability makes it suitable as a material for bottle stoppers, especially for wine bottles. Cork stoppers represent about 60% of all cork based production.
After a decline in use as wine-stoppers due to the increase in the use of synthetic alternatives, cork wine-stoppers are making a comeback and currently represent approximately 60% of wine-stoppers today.
The cork industry is generally regarded as environmentally friendly. The sustainability of production and the easy recycling of cork products and by-products are two of its most distinctive aspects.
The 2008 BBC Documentary; Natural World: Cork - Forest in a bottle, makes the compelling case for the preservation of the cork forests in the Alentejo region of Portugal and how essentially it is the survival of the cork bottle stopper industry, (under threat from plastic and screw tops) that protects the dynamic ecosystem there.