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Sustainable Playground Safety Surfacing: Corkeen

Updated: Mar 20

In present-day society, sustainability has transitioned from being a mere trend to becoming a core principle. Individuals and companies are now actively seeking sustainable options that minimise their environmental footprint, reflecting a growing awareness of the importance of preserving our planet.

As decision-makers in the playground industry, we should also play a role in sourcing sustainable materials for play sites. What if I told you that there is a natural material that is sustainably produced and provides superior fall protection compared to other products in the market?

Before that, let us look at the significance of surfacing in playgrounds.

Playground Safety Surfacing

Hougang Block 123 playground with corkeen safety surfacing. Playground  has yellow panels with a rock climbing wall and a grey swirly slide.

During play, inevitable incidents such as trips and falls often occur, which is typical when allowing children to freely explore playground equipment. Playground surfacing plays a key role in minimising injuries on the playground. It serves as the cushioning layer, and this surface must reduce the impact of falls in the playground. Imagine a young girl losing her grip on a monkey bar. If improper surfacing, such as hard cement, is used, it will not be able to diminish the impact force of the fall. Proper surfacing with cushioning and elastic properties performs better in reducing the severity of potential injuries.

Playground surfacing typically comes in different forms; loose-fill or unitary. 

Loose-fill includes materials such as wood chips, sand, or gravel. This material is the easiest to install on the site. However, this system requires frequent maintenance since natural elements such as wind, or even as a consequence of usage, will slowly displace the material, reducing its protective property. 

Another popular choice in the playground industry is unitary surfacing, exemplified by EPDM rubber flooring commonly seen in many Singaporean playgrounds today. This type of surface is created by bonding rubber granules directly onto the playground area. Due to its rubber composition, it possesses elastic properties, providing a springy feel. For children who like to hop, run, and roll around, this surface makes it easy and safe for them to do so. Although it entails a higher initial expense, its durability reduces the need for frequent maintenance compared to loose-fill materials.

Corkeen Play Original - Sustainable Playground Surfacing

Corkeen Logo

Corkeen is a brand under Amorim Group, a pioneer and world leader in the cork industry, and is the largest cork producer. Corkeen's sustainable playground surfacing falls under the unitary category, but instead of rubber granules, it uses the cork material harvested from the bark cork oak trees.


Sustainability report of Amorim Group

Image from

Amorim relies on cork oak trees for their products, making it the heart of their business. Sustainability is their commitment, and they ensure that their business activity has a positive impact on ecosystems. Amorim aims to maintain, preserve, and enhance cork oak forests. Up to this date, they have planted over 17 million trees.

Cork itself is a raw material of natural origin. Because of this, the material is recyclable and reusable. Amorim takes advantage of this fact and ensures full utilisation of the harvested material. Any excess after production or even products that have reached the end of their life cycle is collected as raw material and reused. This circular economy principle reduces waste, making it an ecological solution.

To harvest the cork, only the bark will be stripped off the tree. This ensures the tree remains planted and will continue to be a part of the ecosystem. The bark will re-grow after nine years, making it available to be harvested again in the future.

Main Features

The features of Corkeen make it ideal for playground surfacing. As discussed earlier, one of the roles of safety surfacing is to mitigate injuries caused by falls. Corkeen’s system features two layers of cork, enhancing its elasticity and compressibility. It is soft to the touch, adding to its cushioning capabilities. It holds its structure over the years, resisting wear and tear and maintaining its shock-absorption properties for many years. On top of its protectiveness, its long-lasting characteristic means regular maintenance is unessential.

It is also an insulating product, regulating its temperature under hot weather conditions. It is found to lower surface temperature by 20% in comparison to other surfacing options. In Singapore, this means that it will not get too hot under the sun, making the playground comfortable for children to go barefoot. In addition to this, since Corkeen is made from a natural material, it will not emit any foul smells and is odourless when it is under the hot sun. This makes the time at the playground pleasing and enjoyable for everyone.

Corkeen has plenty of other features that make it the ideal surfacing for playgrounds, and even for other sites such as parks. For more information, you can check out Corkeen’s website.

Corkeen VS EPDM

infographic comparison of corkeen vs EPDM playground surfacing

Retro-Max Pte Ltd is the exclusive distributor and brand master for Corkeen in Singapore. For more information about Corkeen, contact Retro-Max specialists now!

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