For Vino Afficionados: Even Corks Can Become Greater Than Themselves
In 2008, an innovative recycling group around the wineries in Napa, California, started encouraging restaurants to gather used corks so that they can be recycled into footwear.
The group, named ReCork, is supported by Amorim of Portugal, the world's largest producer of natural cork wine closures, footwear company SOLE, and Amorim's U.S. sales affiliates. This is yet another example of how dynamic partnerships can be formed by creative individuals to benefit the environment.
In the past 6 months, the group has spread its operations to the East Coast and into Midwestern states. It has about 200 drop-off locations and has collected more than 8.6 million corks so far - corks that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill, that is, if people took care to put the cork in the trash.
Most people understand that glass, plastic, aluminum, paper products, can be recycled, but it takes a good bit of thinking outside the box to look at a wine or champagne cork and wonder: "What else can this become?"
This group's work raises the pertinent and eco-friendly question of what else we can recycle to lessen our production of trash as well as lessening our demand of virgin raw materials.
According to Matt Hughes, partner relations manager with ReCork, there is more demand to recycle than they've anticipated. In a week, Brantley Smith, who is the general manager of Chequers Seafood Grill in Dunwoody, the first restaurant to sign up for the cork recycling program, said that he had 3 buckets of customer-supplied corks sitting in his office. The response, according to him, has been very positive.
Here's an article that shows which restaurants recycle their corks.
If one restaurant can collect 3 buckets of corks in 1 week, just think how many corks, nationwide, can be collected for recycling if every person/restaurant saved the corks. Of course, the news source doesn't disclose the size of those 3 buckets, nor did it reveal how many people brought in all those corks or the size of the restaurant's customer base, but the point is, there are a lot of corks to be had!
Calgary-based Sole makes socks, sandals, and "performance footbeds." This company uses a technology to grind up the cork and transforms the cork bits into footwear.
ReCork is looking for other applications for the recycled cork. Potentially, single-use corks can be transformed into flooring tiles, building insulation, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soil conditioners, and sports equipment.Continued on the next page