Whole Foods Market announced on April 6 that it is implementing a company-wide wine cork recycling program that will be available throughout its 292 store locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In partnership with Cork ReHarvest, Whole Foods will set up designated drop boxes for recycling wine corks in its stores. According to a press release, an estimated 13 billion wine cork are produced each year.
“We often forget that cork is a renewable, recyclable material that does not belong in our landfills," says Erez Klein, wine and beer buyer for Whole Foods Market’s Pacific Northwest Region.
“Whole Foods Market is excited to make cork recycling more accessible to our shoppers, and Cork ReHarvest allows us to help sustain cork forests, a critically important resource for our planet, and to do so with near effortless local community action.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, Mediterranean oak forests that supply cork support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity and the second-highest number of plant species in the world.
Not a single tree, which can live up to 300 years, is cut down during cork extraction; instead, bark is harvested by hand every nine to 12 years.
Recycling cork from wine bottles can help lessen the pressure to harvest too quickly, because existing cork - in the form of wine closures or stoppers, for example - reduces the need to use virgin resources to fashion other cork-made goods.
The corks collected for recycling at Whole Foods locations will be made into post-consumer products.
“By launching this company-wide recycling effort, Whole Foods Market is demonstrating its commitment to its green mission,” says Patrick Spencer, director of Cork ReHarvest.
Similar initiatives for recycling wine corks have been gaining momentum over the past couple of years. Last August, American Airlines partnered with ReCORK America to recycle its corks produced from its Admiral Club Lounges.
ReCORK also teamed up with Whole Foods in 2008 for a pilot wine cork recycling program for 25 locations throughout northern California and Reno, Nev.
I Didn't Know That Was Recyclable!