Corks – get recycling!


22 June Purple Pager Malcolm Lamont contacted us from Canada to say that ReCORK has a cork collection box at the Independent Wine Education Guild in Toronto Canada. ReCORK is America's largest wine-cork recycling program, operating in the US and Canada, together with over 3,000 cork collection partners. According to their website they have planted more than 8,000 cork oak trees, and recycled over 75 million corks.

11 May The biggest cork produce Amorim have had a scheme in place with UK retailer Laithwaite's since 2009. Originally – along with the replanting programme of cork oaks in Portugal in return for the cork-stoppered wines sold by Laithwaite's – used corks were collected from all Laithwaites stores. These went to their headquarters in Theale, were ground down into granules and spread on the little vineyard they had there. Bags of these granules were also given to community groups and schools to make craft items such as pinboards and trays.

But this grew into something much larger. The disabled groups started to make furniture with old wine boxes and whole used corks which were then sold by the charities, and many more items. 

Six years ago, when The Savoy in London relaunched with a strong green agenda, The Savoy were added to the scheme which still continues today, along with other collection points that have approached Laithwaite's direct.

25 April Wine production, and consumption, uses a heck of a lot of resources and I’m particularly keen to recycle as energetically as possible. (No comments at the back about recycling opinions and editorial contributions, thank you.)

Of course we dutifully put all our empty bottles in the recycle bin (even if we just have to hope that the local authority recycles them effectively), but what about corks?

I was therefore delighted to be contacted by Sanjay Aggarwal of Recorked UK. They are one of the few wine and champagne cork recycling services in the UK, apparently following in the footsteps of similar initiatives in France, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, the US, Canada and Australia. Adnams are already working with them.

For every cork collected, Recorked UK donates a penny to what they call rather vaguely ‘our charitable partners’. They say that ‘as another incentive we will add your logo and company link to our homepage, add you to the collection partners map on our website and also give you shout outs on social media’.

They are particularly keen to set up recycling stations like the one illustrated here in bars, restaurants and wine shops so that wine drinkers can drop off their used corks there (although some of us may feel we warrant our very own recycling station). I would strongly encourage you to tell your local wine retailers, wine bars and restaurants about this, and to support them by dropping off your used corks there. (Though please throw out any corks that smell mouldy and are possibly tainted by  TCA.)

Aggarwal writes:

If you are interested, then it’s really simple.

  1. Let me know you would like to be a collection partner so we can immediately add you to our collection partners map and your logo and website link to our homepage.
  2. I will send you a cardboard recycling station with poster collection sack, weighing scale and cable ties.
  3. Place the station in a suitable place, encouraging staff and customers to collect all their wine and sparkling wine corks.
  4. As the recycling station fills up, decant into the collection sack.
  5. When the sack is full, email me or give me a call.
  6. We will send out a prepaid collection label to attach to the parcel and a courier will collect it.

If you know of a similar service outside the UK, do feel free to send details to so that we can add details here.

Incidentally, I have just noticed to my surprise that the last time we published an article with 'cork' in the title was in 2004.