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Cork ReHarvest

Cork ReHarvest Logo Ever feel guilty about tossing a wine cork into the trash? You should! Truth be told, I’ve thrown away a few wine corks myself. But not anymore. Cork is a renewable, recyclable material that doesn’t belong in our landfills. What to do? Bring your corks to our stores, drop them in the handy Cork ReHarvest boxes and feel good again! Cork ReHarvestStarting today, Whole Foods Market partners with Cork ReHarvest to make it easy for wine enthusiasts to properly dispose of cork at all of our 292 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Since 2008, the nonprofit and Rainforest Alliance-endorsed Cork ReHarvest has led the cork recycling movement in North America, helping to collect and recycle some of the 13 billion natural corks that are produced each year. Cork recycling helps to reduce demand placed on cork plantations while maintaining the delicate ecosystem of the Mediterranean forests and helps thousands of producers maintain a sustainable income to support their families. Thanks to World Wildlife Fund and Rainforest Alliance, here are some interesting facts and figures on the Mediterranean cork forests:
  • Approximately 6.6 million acres of Mediterranean cork forest extend across Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France.
  • Oak forests support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity.
  • Natural cork extraction is one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting methods in the world. Not a single tree is cut down in the process. Instead, renewable bark is stripped by hand every 9-12 years and cork oaks can live up to 300 years.
  • Cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark, and a harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more [carbon dioxide] than one that isn’t harvested.
  • Additionally, no bark is wasted during the cork production process, and the residue is granulated to make other cork products and even cork dust is used for fuel.
Cork ReHarvest2I’m betting some astute readers out there are asking: “What’s the environmental impact of this recycling program? Does it make sense to pack up and ship cork around the country for recycling?” We thought about that too. Here’s the deal: Corks make their entire journey from our stores to recycling centers on trucks already in-route to each destination with virtually zero increase in carbon footprint. Corks are sent to our distribution centers on trucks already headed that way then picked up by FedEx trucks (another Cork ReHarvest partner) that are passing by our distribution centers en route to their destinations, which include a stop at cork recycling partners. Curious what all those corks become in their new life? West of the Rockies, corks will be delivered to Western Pulp, where they will be turned into recyclable wine shippers containing 10% cork. In the Midwest, corks will be sent to Yemm & Hart, which produces cork floor tiles. And on the East Coast and in the UK, corks will be transported to Jelinek Cork Group, one of the oldest cork manufacturers in North America, where old corks will be made into post-consumer products. Cork Banner So, enjoy that next bottle of wine with a newfound satisfaction of knowing exactly what to do with the cork!

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121 comments

Comments

Don Snethen says …

Ever read the Cork Boat by John Pollack? http://www.amazon.com/Cork-Boat-Story-Unlikeliest-Built/dp/1400034906

judy cortinaz says …

I make cork boards out of mine corks. Two vertical then two horizontal. Alternate rows and glue on whatever size board you want (measure the size that your rows of corks take up before cutting the board). Then just put a frame around it. Wood glue works great for cork, but you need to use super glue for those non-cork rubber ones... My friends love them as gifts!

Linda says …

Thank you for showing us another way to keep our landfills clear of recyclable materials.

Cheryl says …

I've been on a waiting list to recycle cork for over a year. Now, I have a place to take them. Thank you, Whole Foods!

Sam says …

Cool. I kept the cork for my friend so that she used them for design work. Now I have this option to recycle it as well.. Thanks!

Bob Borowick says …

I agree with most recycling efforts but this doesn't make much sense. You tell us ho great natural cork production is for the enviroment, less cork production equils more carbon in the air. Plant more cork oak trees rather than recycle corks. Recycle wine bottles and rehab wino's.

says …

Hey Bob, here's some info from Patrick Spencer, Director of Cork ReHarvest: The cork industry has lost over 40% of it business to synthetic closures and screw caps. By recycling the cork we remove billions on natural corks from our landfills and raise awareness about the importance of saving the Mediterranean cork forests and the negative environmental impact of screw caps and synthetic closures.

Mary Beth says …

Thanks so much. I am so glad to read about your cork recycling program. I have boxes of corks that I refuse to throw in the landfill. I have done all the little crafty things I can think of and still have loads. Not willing to give up my wine though.

Dana says …

Is there anywhere we can take the plastic corks that are so popular now?

says …

Plastic corks are recyclable as well. Check w/ your municipal recycling center to see if they accept them.

Orange Crush Kitchen says …

Awesome! I'll be sure to bring mine in to my fav store - Jamboree!

James says …

I was at the local winery the other day and I seen one of these. Never thought about it, but if you can recycle why not.

Jen says …

This is great! Thank you for letting us know. I live in WA, there are plenty of wine drinkers out here : )

Frank says …

Thank you for the education on cork products. We will certainly bring in our corks from now on...

Jenny M says …

Hi, I was wondering whether this is available at every Whole Foods? Thanks! Jenny

Charmaine says …

I go through hundreds at Flatbread Company in Bedford and often give them away but always have more than people want.

Junko says …

Great idea! Finally I do not feel guilty to cook coq au vin more often. Thank you.

Annie says …

I am delighted you are recycling corks. I always wanted to make a cork wall, but I don't think that will happen. I wish I could make a Christmas house like you had in your main store, but that also is not in my future. Recycling is a nice alternative!

Deborah says …

I hope the cork box is big enough for all that I have at home. I've always known that corks shouldn't go in the trash, but never really had anything to do with them. THANK YOU!

Ree Bolton says …

Re: "Cork ReHarvest" - great idea! Yet another way to save a valued tree. (After all, one can make only so many cork bulletin boards!) Thank you!

Benjamin Kahr says …

I never thought about recycling corks before. A better market is restuarants and the stores that sell them.

Jen says …

What a great idea! I don't drink enough wine to accumulate corks but I did work in an Italian restaurant in college - and we threw out hundreds or corks per day. This could have a huge impact with restaurant industry involvement.

Karen P says …

I have been wanting to make the cork boards out of the wine corks. We don't drink a lot of wine but I am saving my corks. Is it possible to get some corks for recycling craft projects? I would like some very much. Please let me know. Thank you.

Karen Lockwood says …

I live on the OuterBanks of NC in a Resort Town. We have a lot of wine drinkers out here. However, we don't have a Whole Foods here, but since I work at a Fitness Center where a lot of people pass through, I would not mind putting one of these boxes for deposit in the FC. I suppose we'd have to drop them off at a Whole Foods when in Virginia Beach area. Can you send me one?

says …

@Karen You can contact the folks at Cork ReHarvest directly about how to become a partner with a dropbox location. Thanks! http://www.corkreharvest.org/contact_us.php

BetsyB says …

Great news, each little step helps and am delighted that as usual Whole Foods is leading the way.

Wine Man says …

If they were not recycled more cork would be extracted from the trees. The trees are not harmed and the harvested trees extract more CO2 out of the atmosphere. Sounds like the only down side to not recycling would be that the three companies would not get free material to make their products that they sell. What to do....

Rich says …

Thank you for this great information. I will now save my corks for drop them off at Whole Foods.

Donna says …

I'm wondering if only natural cork is accepted in these bins, or are plastic ones acceptable too?

says …

Currently we are only able to accept natural cork in our ReHarvest bins. Thanks!

says …

Only natural corks are accepted by Cork ReHarvest.

Donna says …

And by plastic, I mean the rubbery synthetic kind that sort of look like cork.

H. Page Skelton; Sr. says …

Excellent idea! Here's an even better idea: Why don't we take this recycling program one step further by donating some of the corks to the sustainable sport fishing movement? (Believe it or not, lots of recreational anglers are part-time conservationist and Whole Foods lovers, too!) The Booze Bait Fishing Lure Co. - we're the folks who make the original recycled wine cork & beer cap fishing lures - are calling for restaurants, bars, and individual adult beverage consumers to donate their discarded wine corks and beer bottle caps for "repurposing" into fishing lures that are made mostly with recycled parts. You can get more details about our recycled wine cork & beer bottle cap fishing lures at www.BoozeBait.com Individuals donors can even get a FREE Booze Bait lure by donating to us directly! To learn about our free Cork & Cap Lure Exchange Program, go here: http://www.boozebait.com/free.htm And, if you are truly serious about sustainability, you - the nice folks at Cork Harvest and Whole Foods - are more than welcome to contact me directly via the "contact" page on our website re. possible partnership arrangements, etc. You can also learn about the sustainable sport fishing movement from our good friends at www.RecycledFish.org. Thanks & kindest regards, H. Page Skelton, Sr. President Booze Bait Fishing Lure Co. P.O. Box 4901 Chapel Hill, NC 27515 www.BoozeBait.com "Reduce. Recycle. Reel one in!"

Ping says …

I had no idea corks should be put in the recycle bin! Who knew? I will make sure, from here on, to save and give my corks to WFM. Thanx!

Jens Zorn says …

John Pollack's boat, referenced by Don Snethen, above, was built from 165,000 corks that he had collected with the help of many friends. Boat was built in the US, shipped to Portugal, where John and crew (including State Senator Lana Pollack and Nobel-prize co-winner Henry Pollack, his mom & dad) sailed it down the Duoro river. John, a native of Ann Arbor, was on Bill Clinton's staff as a speechwriter. see http://tinyurl.com/y8akemc

Barbara Faustine says …

What a wonderful idea! I love the fact that now I have a politically correct place to dispose the corks! I will get a separate bin ASAP and begin collecting, then take to my local Whole Foods each week. Thank you

Mariam says …

This is awesome. What about the corks that are not made of natural material, what can we do with them? Can they be recycled some how? I have a bunch of those as well!

kathleen says …

You can also make a trivet out of them by either stringing them on wire or wiring together or getting a band from the hardware store that you can screw down into a tight circle of cork...Sorry don't know what that metal band with slots and as you screw it it gets tighter is called.

Vilia says …

This is great! Now I have a reason to drink more wine!

Reinaldo J. Inaga says …

It is a very interesting article about cork.Good for you.

Cory Pacheco says …

I think this is a great idea! I have saved corks for YEARS not knowing what to do with them!....it will feel good to know that we can make a difference with recycling. Thank you!

Cathi says …

Thanks for thinking of the cork trees!

Joan says …

It's important NOT to buy wine with synthetic corks. I read several years ago that, because of increasing use of the synthetic corks, old-growth cork oak trees were being cut down as they no longer needed them.

Diane says …

This is sooo cool! I have so many corks I have saved and now know they will have a good new, sustainable home. Bravo

Amy says …

Woo hoo! Finally, a way to recycle corks locally. Way to go Whole Foods and Cork Reharvest! I'll pass the news along to all of my eco-conscious friends and family

Mary B says …

Thanks for doing this and making it easy for us to recycle them! In the past I was only aware of a place you could mail them off to for recycling. I'm going to share this info with lots of people.

Edythe says …

My store in Marlton, NJ knows nothing at all about this - sure felt funny dragging in my truckload of corks to recycle.

paig292 says …

Sorry about that! I'll ask the program coordinator to connect with your store.

Sue says …

Love it!

Anne Altor says …

That's awesome. I'm very happy to hear about this service Whole Foods is providing. Do you have plans for an artificial cork recycling program as well? Thanks!

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