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! Starting 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.