ReCORK's cork recycling process: the lifecycle of an incredible, sustainable material.
The journey of cork from bark to bottle to boot, and how it helps the environment from beginning to end.
Your first contact with cork comes with a satisfying pop as you pull it from the neck of your favourite bottle. As far as most are concerned, that's about all it's worth. But the humble wine-stopper's story starts long before then, and with your help, will carry on for long after. Here's how the whole ReCORK recycling process works, and how easy choices and small steps made by us can have a big positive impact on our environment. Let's start at the very beginning.
Cork is harvested.
Cork starts its journey as the bark of an incredible tree: the cork oak. These trees are fantastic carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and trapping it in the bark that's used to make wine-stoppers. No trees are cut down in the harvesting process, and it actually prolongs the life of the tree. Read here to learn more about cork oaks, and why cork is such a sustainable material.
Natural cork becomes bottle stoppers.
Once harvested, the cork oak bark is stacked to dry out, before being boiled in giant vats to remove any contaminants. The highest quality bark is selected and wine corks are punched out of the bark in solid cylinders. Synthetic corks and screw caps take 9-24 times more CO2 emissions to produce than these natural, beautiful corks.
The post-industrial portion of our recycling stream.
The cork cylinders punched from the bark leave behind scraps of perfectly good cork. Some of those scraps will be ground down to turn into agglomerated corks. We purchase a portion of these scraps to add into our recycling stream. This cork forms the post-industrial part of our stream, as it has already been through one industrial process before being utilized by us.
Wine corks are used around the continent.
You pull the cork from a bottle with that satisfying pop we mentioned earlier. It's been in there for months, years maybe, doing its duty safeguarding that delicious liquid, just for you. You could cast it aside, relegating it to the world of garbage and landfills, but you decide pay it the respect that it deserves and recycle it. It may be just one cork, but it's one of more than 125 million that we've collected for recycling, and every cork counts.
Corks collected by our ReCORK Collection Partners.
You add your corks to one a marked ReCORK recycling bin at our recognized recycling locations. The ReCORK Collection Partner you drop your cork with waits until they have 15lbs of cork collected. That's the amount that's environmentally efficient to ship. They then pack up the corks and ship them to us. At the same time, Private Collection Partners (think bars and restaurants) and Event Partners around the continent are collecting their corks to send to us. This is the post-consumer part of our recycling stream.
We grind down all our cork together.
We grind down all the wine corks, and left over cork trimmings so we can turn them into a raw material that's perfect for replacing environmentally harmful petroleum-based foams and plastics in consumer products. ReCORK Recycled Cork is as flexible, durable, cushioning and light as synthetic foams. This means your cork could end up in a pair of high-performance footwear, or a pair of SOLE footbeds.
The cork is formed into carbon-negative components.
We make the most of cork's naturally durable, lightweight, moisture wicking and rot-resistant qualities by turning it into a variety of components for footwear products. Thanks to the incredible amount of carbon trapped by cork oak trees while growing the cork int he first place, these components are carbon negative, meaning they remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they add to it! These carbon negative components form part of SOLE footwear, as well as being used by other major, environmentally-conscious brands.