Recycled cork makes sustainable ground cover

Nowadays cork is no longer considered as a disposable material, but instead as a valuable recycling material. Applications for recycled cork are currently being fully researched. Non-profit Vlaspit devised a natural ground cover for placing around the bottom of plants and trees.

Vlaspit is a social employment initiative based in Scherpenheuvel, who among its other activities, collects cork for recycling. The recycled, natural cork is already used for making insulating materials, and the organisation was looking for new application areas.

Tree base ring

As a result of this, Sirris was asked whether the recycled material could be used for making tree base rings. Healthy tree growth depends on the ground around the trunk being open to allow water and oxygen to enter the soil. If the soil around the trunk is hard because of paving for example, then the tree runs the risk of ending up with insufficient air and water. This is where ground cover made from a natural, permeable material such as cork offers a suitable alternative. The organisation needed help in its search for suitable material, the mixture ratios and the method of application in an area where Sirris had already acquired the required expertise.

From tests to practice

Sirris carried out tests and created small scale samples to help it improve the system. The next step involved scaling up the initial practical demonstrations.

Together with the parks department in Leuven, a number of tree base rings will be placed around a variety of tree trunks. In addition we will also provide training for the staff at the City of Leuven and Vlaspit.

To be continued!