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




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
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
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
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
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
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
Donna says ...
I'm wondering if only natural cork is accepted in these bins, or are plastic ones acceptable too?
04/07/2010 5:02:42 PM CDT
Donna says ...
And by plastic, I mean the rubbery synthetic kind that sort of look like cork.
04/07/2010 5:04:20 PM CDT
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!"
04/07/2010 5:06:04 PM CDT
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!
04/07/2010 5:12:02 PM CDT
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
04/07/2010 9:34:11 PM CDT
vaughnm says ...
Currently we are only able to accept natural cork in our ReHarvest bins. Thanks!
04/08/2010 8:47:06 AM CDT
hsiaw says ...
Only natural corks are accepted by Cork ReHarvest.
04/08/2010 8:52:19 AM CDT
hsiaw 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
04/08/2010 8:55:38 AM CDT
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
04/08/2010 7:47:04 PM 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