June 27, 2023

Cultivating Cork Recycling

If you have ever opened up a wine bottle, then chances are you’ve heard of Cork. Cork is a sturdy material that comes from the inner bark of the Cork Oak, a tree native to Europe and Northern Africa. The largest Cork producer is Portugal, exporting almost half of all harvested Cork in the world today. Cork’s durability and elasticity make it a viable substance for many products, the most notable of which being wine stoppers. Cork can also be used to create drink coasters, badminton shuttlecocks, wallets, handbags, flooring/wall material, and even shoes.

Cork is an organic material, making it completely biodegradable. This characteristic  also makes cork an incredible plastic alternative, as it would decompose in a couple of years as compared to the 1000 years it takes most plastics to decompose. Cork Oak trees are also excellent carbon sinks. If the trees are harvested in a safe manner that allows the bark to regenerate, Cork production can become a Carbon sequestering process that stores and converts the CO2 into organic matter. This lowers CO2 gas amounts in the atmosphere, helping to combat Climate Change. In terms of wine stopper production, Cork is also the most sustainable option - Cork stopper production emits about 9 times less CO2 than plastic stopper production, and 24 times less CO2 than aluminum screw cap production!

It has been difficult in the past couple of years to figure out how to recycle Cork - once the wine is used, the glass is allowed in the recycle stream, but the Cork isn’t. Additionally, cork stoppers are unable to be reused for wine stoppers again due to concerns over bacteria growth. While Cork stoppers can be composted, many municipalities don’t offer local composting programs.

So how can you recycle Cork? Besides local composting programs, the easiest way to sustainably dispose of the material is through various companies that specialize in Cork recycling. One notable company is ReCORK, a company that uses recycled Corks supplied by consumers to create carbon negative Cork products, such as shoes and coasters. They plant Cork Oak trees in appropriate environments to offset carbon emissions and promote carbon neutral business practices to collect the Cork. ReCORK has numerous drop off locations scattered throughout the United States and Canada where consumers and their partners can deposit used Corks. If a drop off location isn’t nearby, consumers can ship their Cork stoppers to ReCORK to be recycled.

Because we see Cork recycling as such an innovative strategy towards producing sustainable, recyclable products, we are proud to offer drop off location information for Cork recycling across the United States and Canada. Our goals are to help increase Cork circularity and promote a Carbon Negative process that prevents Global Climate Change and increases the use of biodegradable, renewable materials!

ReCORK: https://recork.com/us/