Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Cork ReHarvest

By Paige Brady, April 6, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Paige Brady
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!
Category: Green Action




Don Snethen says ...
Ever read the Cork Boat by John Pollack? http://www.amazon.com/Cork-Boat-Story-Unlikeliest-Built/dp/1400034906
04/07/2010 8:44:22 AM CDT
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!
04/07/2010 9:01:06 AM CDT
Linda says ...
Thank you for showing us another way to keep our landfills clear of recyclable materials.
04/07/2010 8:13:28 AM CDT
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!
04/10/2010 7:00:38 AM CDT
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!
04/12/2010 10:41:42 AM CDT
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.
04/14/2010 8:11:11 AM CDT
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.
04/14/2010 9:14:33 PM CDT
Dana says ...
Is there anywhere we can take the plastic corks that are so popular now?
04/15/2010 9:50:40 AM CDT
Orange Crush Kitchen says ...
Awesome! I'll be sure to bring mine in to my fav store - Jamboree!
04/07/2010 12:23:18 AM CDT
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.
04/06/2010 4:48:22 PM CDT
Jen says ...
This is great! Thank you for letting us know. I live in WA, there are plenty of wine drinkers out here : )
04/07/2010 9:18:54 AM CDT
Frank says ...
Thank you for the education on cork products. We will certainly bring in our corks from now on...
04/09/2010 9:14:02 AM CDT
Jenny M says ...
Hi, I was wondering whether this is available at every Whole Foods? Thanks! Jenny
04/10/2010 7:51:52 PM CDT
Charmaine says ...
I go through hundreds at Flatbread Company in Bedford and often give them away but always have more than people want.
04/10/2010 8:55:53 PM CDT
Junko says ...
Great idea! Finally I do not feel guilty to cook coq au vin more often. Thank you.
04/10/2010 8:39:05 PM CDT
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!
04/18/2010 5:28:54 PM CDT
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!
04/07/2010 10:32:00 AM CDT
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!
04/07/2010 10:55:41 AM CDT
Benjamin Kahr says ...
I never thought about recycling corks before. A better market is restuarants and the stores that sell them.
04/07/2010 11:41:04 AM CDT
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.
04/07/2010 12:13:18 PM CDT
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.
04/07/2010 12:42:19 PM CDT
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?
04/07/2010 1:42:41 PM CDT
BetsyB says ...
Great news, each little step helps and am delighted that as usual Whole Foods is leading the way.
04/07/2010 2:22:35 PM CDT
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....
04/07/2010 3:22:22 PM CDT
Rich says ...
Thank you for this great information. I will now save my corks for drop them off at Whole Foods.
04/07/2010 3:34:14 PM CDT