Where can I recycle wine corks?

You dug corks out of your basements to recycle them with Upcycle It! We collected several large bags of corks. I can’t even count how many people told me, “I’ve been saving them for years. Couldn’t throw them away. I’ll bring them to the Farmers Market next week.” And they did! Now that the program can no longer accept corks, what to do…..

First some background on why you should recycle corks.

Cork is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and renewable. It is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process. Trees do not need to be cut down. The bark is stripped by hand every 9 – 12 years. The bark regenerates and the cork oak trees are capable of living for 300 years according to Cork Reharvest.org. So on the production end, these are pretty sustainable little products. In fact, after they are done keeping your bottle of wine sealed, they can continue to be useful. There is no reason for it to end up as waste. Used wine or champagne corks can be recycled into shoes, flooring tiles, building insulation and craft materials. So, how do you recycle your share of the 13 billion natural corks produced each year? There are several options.

Natural Corks

For the casual wine drinker:

Probably the easiest option around here is to take them to any Whole Foods (closest location to Westford is Bedford). As of last April, Whole Foods partnered with Cork ReHarvest to recycle natural corks. They have placed containers in all of their stores to collect the corks. Cork ReHarvest is a 501 c3 non-profit “dedicated to the protection and sustainability of the Mediterranean cork forests and the families, who for generations have farmed these forests.”

For large quantities:

ReCork by Amorim recycles natural corks as well. They work with a company called SOLE to turn the used corks into shoes. There are drop off locations located in Cambridge, Boston, Nantucket and a few in NH. If you expect to collect a lot of corks (about 1650), Recork will pay the shipping. Click here to find out more.

Synthetic Corks

Now both of these options only solve the natural cork issue. What about those synthetic corks? Take a close look. Some have a recycling symbol on them – you can throw them in your curbside recycling.

Natural and Synthetic

TerraCycle will still upcycle all natural or synthetic corks and pay the shipping. However, they are not paying the 2 cents to our schools anymore. As much as I would love to continue to upcycle all these corks, Upcycle It! is so busy that we just don’t have the time. If you would like to upcycle your own, check out www.terracycle.net.

The crafter

If you are crafty, try making these….

Cork board


Or this bath mat

You could also turn it into a spout for a bottle. Cut a wedge shape groove along the side of the cork and push it back into the wine bottle. You reuse the bottle too!

Have any ideas? Please share them. Are you a crafter in the area who needs corks? Leave a message and I’m sure I can get you lots.

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