Cork recycling at Green Living Festival |

Cork recycling at Green Living Festival

Green Living festival staff
Special to The R-C

Ever feel guilty about tossing a wine cork into the trash? Cork is a renewable, recyclable material that doesn’t have to be lost in landfills.

Start saving now, and bring your used corks to the seventh annual Green Living Festival in Genoa on Sept. 21, and they will be taken to Whole Foods Market for recycling.

The goal is to collect 25 pounds of cork — real cork, not the new plastic stoppers. Your used corks can be collected and then recycled into useful products; just bring them to the River Fork Ranch, 381 Genoa Lane, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit or email to for details on the Green Living Festival.

At all of its 292 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Whole Foods Market, in partnership with Cork ReHarvest, helps gather and dispose of donated corks.

Since 2008, the nonprofit and Rainforest Alliance-endorsed Cork ReHarvest has led the cork recycling movement in North America, helping to collect and recycle some of the 13 billion natural corks that are produced each year.

Natural cork extraction is one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting methods in the world. No trees are cut down in the process. Instead, renewable bark is stripped by hand every nine to 12 years. Cork oaks can live up to 300 years.

And there’s a bonus: Cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark. A harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more carbon dioxide than one that isn’t harvested.

Bark isn’t wasted during the cork production process, as the residue is granulated to make other cork products.

Even cork dust is used — for fuel. Corks make their entire journey from the stores to recycling centers on trucks already en route to each destination with virtually zero increase in carbon footprint.

From the West Coast, corks will be delivered to Western Pulp, where they will be turned into recyclable wine shippers containing 10 percent cork.

In the Midwest, corks will be sent to Yemm & Hart, which produces cork floor tiles, and on the East Coast and in the United Kingdom, corks will be transported to Jelinek Cork Group, where old corks will be made into post-consumer products.