Not many of us think about recycling wine corks.  After all, they don’t take up much space and are biodegradable.   But with over 13 billion natural wine corks sold each year, it is still a good idea. With landfill space at near capacity, we need to reduce trash whenever possible, no matter how small an item.

Recycling or reusing wine corks reduces the need to harvest virgin materials and the demand on cork plantations, most of which are found in Europe and Africa around the Mediterranean.  Natural cork extraction is one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting methods – no tree needs to be cut down.  The bark is stripped by hand and rejuvenates in 9 – 12 years; a cork tree lives up to 300 years.  Plastic or metal screw on wine tops are becoming popular.  The screw on tops may be easier, but you lose the art of opening a wine bottle with an authentic cork, which to me adds to the pleasure of drinking wine.  As a renewable resource, natural cork’s environmental impact is also far less than plastic and metal-based closures!

Corks are the perfect item to “upcycle” (the process of converting waste materials into new products of better quality or higher environmental value) because they are 100% natural, biodegradable, energy efficient, renewable and sustainable.  Cork tops can be reused into cork flooring, shoe soles, fishing rod handles, place mats, trivets, bulletin boards, and even soil conditioners, to name a few.  Use your imagination – corks make a great decorative item too.  As of April 2010, Whole Foods Markets partnered with Cork Reharvest and has set up collection boxes for wine corks in many stores.

Image by gliuoo

Or, you can visit to find a cork recycling drop-off near you.

Recycling wine corks – one more simple step to help save the earth!

Information compiled from, Earth911, article by Jennifer Berry, and, wikipedia


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by amy on March 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    thanks, Betsy…i shall look for a collection box at my whole foods..
    upcycle – that’s one i’d never heard before…..


  2. You learn something new every day!


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