How to Recycle Corks

Cork is a natural, biodegradable, and renewable resource. The tree bark is harvested by hand every nine to 12 years for use in various products, most often wine corks. Not a single tree, each of which can live up to 300 years, is cut down during cork extraction.

Corks are very durable and offer plenty of possibilities for creative reuse. Next time you pop a top on a bottle of white or red, remember these tips for recycling and reuse.

Find a drop-off location for corks near you by using the Recycling Locator.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent Corks Recycling Questions

Where can I recycle corks?

To recycle corks, look for a Cork ReHarvest or Recork collection point near you or use the Recycling Locator.

There are also some mail-in options; CorkClub offers mail-in cork recycling, but you must pay the shipping cost. Also, TerraCycle has for-pay zero-waste boxes if you have a large quantity of cork to recycle.

Why is cork used in wine instead of metal or plastic lids?

That depends on who you ask. The cork people have about a million reasons why people should use cork including “non-renewable energy consumption, emission of greenhouse effect gases, contribution to atmospheric acidification, contribution to the formation of photochemical oxidants, contribution to the eutrophication of surface water and total production of solid waste” when using metal or plastic. In addition, “Cork for bottle stoppers accounts for almost 70% of the total value of the cork market. The wine industry thus plays a vital role in maintaining the economic value of cork and the cork oak forests.”

However, some wine makers say that plastic or metal alternatives make more economic sense, and while foodies may argue that synthetic is a safer bet from a mold or resealing standpoint. The debate continues over at

Are there cool ways to reuse cork?

Yes! Because it is such a durable material, you can upcycle corks into anything from place-card holders to trivets, garden markers, and more.

Additional Reading