All Whole Foods Stores to Recycle Wine Corks

Wine corks

Whole Foods Market will have collection boxes for wine corks in all of its 292 locations.

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.

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  1. That’s great news. The Novato store is opening in 16 days. I hope they have a big recycling box. I’ve been mailing them to reCork America. I have a large box I’d like to drop off.

  2. Anders, can you please expain your comment? I believe that by recycling the corks we will be using less and thereby saving the limited cork trees…not oaks.

  3. I just returned home from my neighborhood Whole Foods. I had taken a bag full of corks to recycle and when I asked the cashier where the recycle bin was, he checked with someone and said they’d discontinued cork recycling. What gives?

  4. Yoni, cork comes from a type of oak tree. I think what Anders is getting at is that if the wine industry gets away from using corks at all, it could spell doom for the oak forests that have been used for centuries to harvest cork from, since the folks relying on that industry would have to find something else to make a living, which could become cutting down the oak trees for their wood. That scenario is certainly possible, but not necessary. Even if the wine industry stops using natural cork, there are many other uses made of cork, such as those Birkenstock sandals many of us love, etc. Also, I’m not sure we’ll see the higher end wines stop using cork any time soon, since it is such a part of the tradition of sealing, storing, and opening this fruit of the gods.

  5. I just called the Whole Foods at 10 Columbus Circle NY, NY and they said they used to accept corks but that particular location does not anymore… so the statement ALL WHOLE FOODS ACCEPT CORKS is not accurate. I will have to call around to the other Whole Foods and ask each one if they accept them … then go there.

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