Cork: Environmentally friendly


It cannot be repeated often enough that cork stoppers are a natural, recyclable and biodegradable product. But even through they are biodegradable, they can still be recycled. To take advantage of and preserve this valuable resource, a growing number of countries have taken measures to implement recycling initiatives, in order to raise awareness of the importance of this material among local populations. 

Although recycled cork is never reused to manufacture cork stoppers for wine (due to lack of quality), there are many other possible alternative applications. For example, corkboards, place mats, coasters, flooring, gaskets or insulation material.

Some recycling initiatives from around the world:


"Recycling cork, recycling life” is the name of the initiative that is being developed in Spain, which aims to collect corks for later use in crafts for disabled people. The idea is from ADISANVI Association in San Vicente de Alcântara, and has been running since December 2010. More information can be obtained in http://www.reciclascorchoreciclasvida.blogspot.com/.



In Australia, cork stoppers have been collected and recycled by Girl Guides since 1992 and every year they collect more than 30 tons of cork from friends, hotels, restaurants, clubs and wineries.
This year, Australians will be encouraged to deliver used corks to a local "Clean Up site" and leave them in special Guides Australia cork recycling bags. For more information, visit the web site www.guidesaus.org.au


For more information on cork recycling initiatives and collection points in Germany, visit the "Korken-Recycling" section on the website of the Deutscher Korkverband e.V.: http://www.kork.de/wsuak_recycling.htm

Kaufland, the German-based retail grocery giant owned by Schwarz group, has a cork stoppers recycle scheme for over fifteen years. This initiative, called Korkie program, support a charity organization in Kehl, south Germany, which receive the collected corks and then processes into insulation material for sale.
NABU – German Environmental Association – has a cork stoppers recycle scheme implemented in more than 1000 places, like their offices, schools and governmental institutions. This initiative, called “Korkampagne”, intend to collect cork stoppers in Hamburg and it’s donation to a public utility institution. This organization transforms 30 tones of cork stoppers/per year into gifts and construction materials.
For further information: http://www.nabu.de/m07/m07_02/04207.html


For more information on cork recycling and collection points in Belgium, visit the web site of the organisation Petit Liège. Between 1997 and 2001, this organisation collected 15,820,000 cork stoppers. Information in French, Dutch and German at: users.swing.be/petit.liege


ReCORK by Amorim (previously ReCORK America) is a natural wine cork recycling program in the USA and Canada. The ReCORK program is sponsored by Amorim of Portugal, SOLE, a leading manufacturer of footwear products, and Amorim’s U.S. sales affiliates – Amorim Cork America and Portocork America. The goal is to recycle corks and to educate and inform their audiences about
 the crucial role cork forests play in curbing climate change and the important ecosystem that thrives in the montado. ReCORK has already collected millions of used corks. Check out the ticker on their website to see a running tally of how many have been collected so far. SOLE has developed a unique cork blend that replaces petroleum-based plastics in some of their footwear and packaging, and ReCORK recycled corks will be used in these products, giving extended life to the used corks. Collection locations are being established with key retailers and restaurants all over North America. A list of current collection locations can be found on www.recork.org

Since starting in 2008, Cork Re-Harvest has led the cork recycling movement in the US and Canada, helping to collect and recycle cork stoppers. Equally important is there work to educate the public about the Mediterranean cork forests that contain one of the world's highest levels of forest biodiversity including endemic plants and endangered species such as the Iberian Lynx, the Iberian Imperial Eagle, and the Barbary Deer.

More information: www.corkreharvest.org/ .


At the beginning of 2005, the Municipal Council of São Brás de Alportel, in the Algarve, launched an unprecedented initiative: it challenged locals to take cork stoppers to a cork special recycling bank prepared for this purpose, strategically scattered throughout the municipality at Ecoponto recycling banks, where paper, glass and packaging can also be left. However even before the creation of the cork recycling bank, this local authority had already implemented biweekly collection of cork stoppers from around fifteen restaurants of the region. An initiative aimed at the recovery and recycling of cork stoppers from bottles or demijohns to manufacture a variety of products: corkboards, place mats, coasters, flooring, gaskets and insulation material. The new objects can put on sale, thus helping to raise awareness of the importance of ecological issues in the protection of the environment.

For more information, see the link Give new life to cork stoppers

GREEN CORK is a Cork Stoppers Recycle Program developed by Quercus – a Portuguese environment Association - , in partnership with the Corticeira Amorim (a cork company), the Modelo/Continente (Portuguese supermarket) and the Biological. The Program objective is to transform the used cork stoppers in another cork products and also allow the financial support of the "CREATE FORESTS, CONSERVE the BIODIVERSITY" Program which main objective is to preserve the native Portuguese tree, such as the Cork oak Tree (Quercus Suber). For further information: http://earth-condominium.com/port/green.html