A revival of the region’s cork producing history   .jpg

A revival of the region’s cork producing history  

By: ELOISE WALTON

eloise@the-resident.com

SÃO BRÁS de Alportel has developed two projects which aim to raise awareness among residents and visitors to the region about the cork industry and products which can result from recycling.

São Brás has a long cork producing history with more than 80 factories having been dedicated to the industry. Now, the volume of production continues to be the same because of industrialised machinery, however only around 10 factories are left in the council.

On March 12, São Brás Câmara hosted their third discussion entitled À Volta do Sobreiro, Around the Cork Oak, to support the launch of the Rota da Cortiça, the cork route, in July aimed at highlighting the decline of cork manufacturing, the council’s current ranking in national cork production tables and plans for the future of the industry in São Brás de Alportel.

Vitor Guerreiro, vice president of São Brás Câmara and a spokesman for the Associação Rota da Cortiça, the cork route association, said that the next discussion, which will take place on May 5 in the Salão Nobre of the Câmara will focus on the investigation and new applications for cork.

These discussions which end in July coincide with a national conference about the industry, as well as the inauguration of the São Brás cork route which will be officially presented to the public during the council’s Feira da Serra.

Cork route

The cork route will include six places of interest to teach visitors about the local heritage, nature, rural life, tradition, innovation and knowledge.

“The Museu do Trajo Algarvio (the Algarve’s costume museum), will be the first part of the route that will bring tourists to São Brás,” said Vítor Guerreiro. The museum will have exhibitions solely dedicated to cork.

Also included will be visits to typical villages in the Serra do Caldeirão, to traditional factories which prepare and produce bottle corks as well as a view of advanced technology used to make discs for champagne corks.  The same manufacturing group that will be included in the route also have a company which makes accessories including handbags and hats designed by Portuguese stylist Luís Buchinho.

In January, the regional tourist board, Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA) also joined the Rota da Cortiça project and will be involved in the promotion and advertising of the route to visitors.

As well as the cork route, São Brás Câmara has already launched a project to collect and recycle used corks from bottles. Restaurants and other commercial spaces in São Brás can collect corks and apply to the Câmara for a rolhão, a receptacle designed for collection.

There are currently 30 rolhões, cork recycling units, in public spaces throughout São Brás and more have been given to restaurants.

For now, the material obtained from recycled bottle corks is being transformed into objects such as heat proof kitchen mats and notice boards.

An exhibition about the history of workers involved in the cork industry, entitled Gente da Cortiça, is now open until May 31 at the Centro Museológico do Alportel. This exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday between 2pm and 5pm. For more information, please telephone 289 843 711.

For more information about the cork industry and recycling project, please telephone 289 840 028 or email ambiente@cm-sbras.pt.  Alternatively, please visit the Associação da Cortiça website, available only in Portuguese at www.aiec.pt

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