Wine Cork Recycling is Green, whether you Drink White or Red

recycling wine corks is easier than you think

Wine cork recycling can be used to create everything from the soles of your shoes to the floor they walk on.

Following those final tasty sips of vino, you can toss the cork to the cat for a toy, but if she grows bored, and manages to keep from batting it under the couch, what’s left for your cork to do?

If you’re into green living, you’d probably like to figure out a few ways to recycle wine corks. Fortunately, you have friends who have already considered the issue of cork recycling, and have, if you’ll pardon a British twist in your bubbly, come up with some corking ways to recycle wine corks!

Forget about simply tossing your wine corks in the trash. What a waste! Cork is a natural resource; it isn’t synthesized of polymers you can’t pronounce. And, just as with other so many other natural products from Mama Earth, cork can be recycled and reused.

If you know much about cork, you may be wondering why we need to recycle it. After all, the Mediterranean cork forest spreads out over 6.6 million acres with enough cork to last more than 100 years. While it’s true that the forest needs to be protected, the process of harvesting, using and recycling cork is actually one of the best ways to do so.

Trees are not felled during the harvest of cork, making it an extremely sustainable natural resource. Roughly once per 9-12 years, the bark is stripped from a species of Oak tree to make cork. When this process is undertaken with proper attention to conservation principles, the tree doesn’t suffer and will generate new cork ready for harvest in another decade or so.

By choosing to recycle wine corks and reuse them for new products, consumers are helping to raise awareness of this soft woods’ viability as a long-term solution to other dwindling natural resources. Creating demand for products made from recycled cork sends a clear message that not only is wine cork recycling important but also that sources of new cork must be preserved and supported.

Do you know where to recycle your wine corks? It’s usually not too hard to find someone willing to take old wine corks off your hands, but we’ve sourced out a few professional wine cork recyclers to make the entire process more conventient.

Where to Recycle Wine Corks

After a little hunting, we were able and happy to have found some companies who engage in cork recycling for a living.

Cork ReHarvest: Easy Drop-off for Wine Cork Recycling

Whole Foods Markets recently launched a partnership with Cork ReHarvest. At all of the nearly 300 Whole Foods Markets around the US, Canada, and the UK, convenient cork recycling bins have been rolled out. Depending upon where you pop your cork, Whole Foods and Cork Reharvest will make sure that it is resurrected as a recyclable wine shipper, floor tile, or post consumer product. Through their recycling programs, both companies are calling attention to cork’s natural utility and highlighting it as a sustainable resource that has many uses and re-uses.

Yemm & Hart: Recycling Wine Corks into Tiles

Yemm & Hart has been into cork recycling since 2004! So they have learned a thing or two, and are always looking for new ways to convert recycled wine corks into other useful, self-sustaining products. To date, their main contribution to wine cork recycling has been the development of tiles suitable for your floors or walls.

When you visit their site, you can grab a free brochure providing great background information and, at the same time, you can jot down the address to which to send your corks! But wait! There’s more! Everyone who contributes corks can request a free sample wine cork tile.

ReCORK: These Corks are Made for Walking

ReCORK is brought to you by a company from Portugal: Amorim, who makes more than 3 million corks per year. Since they conduct a substantial business with cork products, they are highly motivated to develop eco-friendly harvest, manufacture, and cork recycling processes. Amorim is hot on the idea of converting recycled wine corks into soles for shoes, but also corkboards, handles for your fishing rod, place mats for your dining table, and insulation to keep you warm and cool.

Find New Ways to Reuse Wine Corks

Of course, some of us grow a little fond of our corks, especially after finishing their former bottle, and would prefer to find ways to engage in cork recycling right at home, such as by mixing them in with other mulching materials in the garden.

I must admit, though, that the kids sometimes come up with some excellent ideas. I saw a boy fishing at the pond the other day, who was using a cork as a bobber on his line. One of my daughter’s art teachers had the kids bring in corks, and they found their way into Christmas and Hanukah decorations and gifts. The kids found out how to make cork recycling a gift that keeps on giving.

Comments

  1. I want to thank Greenworld for the article on natural cork and cork recycling. Whenever a consumer chooses a wine closed with a natural cork, they are helping to save one of the most important biospheres on our planet, the Mediterranean cork forests. I would like to make one correction to the paragraph about the Cork ReHarvest and Whole Foods Market recycling program. The statement, “Both companies have seen how escalating use of fresh cork could lead to the depletion of cork forests, and are taking preventive action.” is inaccurate. By recycling the cork we bringing greater awareness to the usefulness of this renewable and recyclable product. In fact, is there is no cork shortage and the greater risk is in NOT using cork, as this will lead to forest destruction.

    Thank you,
    Patrick Spencer
    Executive Director, Cork ReHarvest

  2. Thanks for your valuable insight, Patrick. I adjusted the article accordingly.

    I find it interesting that the simple laws of supply and demand can be manipulated to become a driving force for positive environmental change. By creating greater demand for cork, the supplies become more valuable … and, in turn, places like the cork forest become too valuable to destroy. It seems a round about way to ensure preservation, but it’s brilliant!

    Score another one for the power of recycling! Again, thank you for sharing your experience about recycling wine corks is so important. I may have to start drinking more wine to support the cause. :-)

    Barbara
    Editor, Green World 365

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