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RE: [greenyes] Wine Cork Recycling

Why not like natural corks!!! The cork forests of Spain and Portugal
support the most incredible biodiversity and produce commercial corks - buy
using corks we can actually support a sustainable eco-system and stop waste!
see below. I include an extract from my Book - Reduce - Reuse and Recycle -
published May 26th 04 Grren Books UK - Nicky Scott - chair Community
Composting Network.

RECYCLE Corks are not being recycled at the moment but their time will come!
In the meantime they have some re-uses.

REUSE You can use corks for lighting fires or for soundproofing (I've seen
them used in Pubs for as infill between wooden supports to make little
soundproof booths - it works!) and you can make cork noticeboards from whole
corks by gluing them together in a frame.

Corking facts
* Cork recycled from wine bottles can be used to make products
such as placemats, floor tiles, gaskets, fishing rods, shoe wedges and
insulation material.
* Countries including Australia, Germany, Belgium and
Switzerland have cork-recycling programmes. In Australia the Girl Guides
collect tonnes of corks every year to raise funds - we could easily do it
here too.
* Since its launch in February 2003, the Cork Information
Bureau in the UK claims to have has seen a fivefold increase in the number
of enquiries received about cork recycling. It says these enquiries have
come from a mix of local authorities, businesses, the wine trade and
individual consumers.
* Real corks are preferable to plastic corks for many
reasons. The main one being that cork forests in Portugal and Spain
supports an incredible diversity of wildlife.
* Cork trees are now protected by the Portuguese government as
a renewable resource and the average life span of a cork tree is more than
200 years.
* Real corks are easier to get out of the bottle and off the
corkscrew and can be recycled or composted.

Corks and the Environment

Are thrushes like these threatened by plastic corks?
Do you have any comments to make about environmental concerns?
Would concern for wildlife make you prefer natural corks?
(You may want to read this page before answering this question)
While much of the cork debate has been focused on the problems of
cork-taint, in the last few years growing attention has been paid to
environmental issues.
First, there is the issue of recyclability. Natural corks are biodregradable
- though very slowly. They can also be recycled. For the alternatives
recycling is the only option. Consumers who separate different types of
rubbish, simply place screwcaps in the same bags as cans, while plastic
corks can be thrown away with other recyclable plastics. For everyone else,
these will simply add to the mass of detritus that will go into land-fill
sites or incinerated.
Amorim <>, the world's biggest cork manufacturer
has cleverly sponsored a recycling scheme run by the Girl Guides. It has
also been instrumental in promoting concern about the threat alternative
closures supposedly pose to the wildlife that lives in the cork forests of
the Alentejo in Portugal.
So, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds <>
(RSPB) website (to which there are links on the Amorim site) has pages
rchive/316.htm> and printed material which promote the idea that using
plastic corks will directly lead to the extinction of the Iberian eagle and
other birds that live in the Alentejo cork oaks. A BBC Radio 4 wildlife
programme broadcast in February 2001 painted an even gloomier picture.
Presenter Lionel Kellaway interviewed cork farmers and environmentalists who
predicted the extinction of the rare Iberian lynx and of the wild boar that
live among the trees. Also threatened, apparently, was the traditional way
of life of the inhabitants of the region.
While plastic corks and the UK supermarkets who favour them were cast in the
role of Public Enemy No. 1, the programme fairly pointed out that the cork
forests are also under threat from property developers and farmers who
prefer to grow eucalyptus trees for papermills than cork oaks. It was also
admitted that the younger inhabitants of this region, like their
counterparts in other poor, rural, parts of the world, are migrating to the
Having raised fears that the cork trees were all about to be chopped down,
the programme acknowledged that the Portuguese government has recently
effectively placed the cork oak forests under a preservation order by
legally requiring the replanting of a new cork oak for every old one that is
More significantly, no mention was made of the fact that, far from
shrinking, the cork forests are actually growing. In response to the
fast-growing popularity of premium wine from producers like E&J Gallo (who
having previously used almost no natural cork, now seal tens of millions of
bottles with them)ssome 150,000 ha (370,000 acre) of new forest has been
planted over the last 20 years. When they are all in production these trees
will increase the forest by 15-20%.
These figures, which seem, at the very least, to place a question over the
gloomy pictures painted by the RSPB and Lionel Kellaway were drawn from the
following article which appeared on the website of Cork Supply USA, the
largest provider of premium natural cork wine stoppers in the US
According to Jochen Michalski, president of Cork Supply USA, the 2000 Cork
Harvest was the "Best in Years"
The combined output of Spain and Portugal should yield approximately 250,000
tons of cork bark (170,000 tons from Portugal and 80,000 tons from Spain),
an increase over 1999. "The increase in production is due to two factors:
ideal growing conditions over the three previous years, and we are
approaching the high point in the cork production cycle that spans about
nine to ten years," says Michalski. A resident of Portugal, Michalski
reports that climatic conditions this year were the best in recent memory.
"We had a warm spring followed by good rainfalls. Because of this, the bark
is coming off very easily in large slabs with hardly any loss. The results
are a harvest that is running at a much faster pace than usual and all the
wood which could not be harvested last year is coming off this year," said
Michalski. Michalski also pointed out that over the past 20 years, more than
370,000 acres of new cork forests have been planted in both Portugal and
Spain. "These new forests will yield close to 50,000 tons of corkwood, or
the equivalent of 3 billion wine corks, when they come into full
production," said Michalski. "New cork forests also continue to be expanded
as additional re-forestation continues on an annual basis."
Cork trees are now protected by the Portuguese government as a renewable
resource, the average life span of a cork tree is more than 200 years.
(from the online newsletter of Cork Supply USA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Linda [SMTP:linda@no.address]
> Sent: 26 May 2004 20:45
> To: Priselac.Adrienne@no.address; greenyes@no.address; 'JTRNET'
> Subject: RE: [greenyes] Wine Cork Recycling
> A little tidbit of information I picked up recently...
> I was speaking with a woman who buys wine and beer for a local chain of
> restaurants. I told her I didn't like the use of natural cork but wasn't
> too thrilled with the plastic replacement, either.
> She said that she expects corks to eventually be replaced with metal
> screw tops. They already have been in Australia, but they use corks for
> the bottles they market in the US. She also said that there is a
> bacterium that is introduced with corks that makes 1 out of 10 bottles
> go bad! So oddly enough, she expects the screw top bottles to begin with
> the higher end wines.
> Linda Smith
> Eco-Cycle
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Priselac.Adrienne@no.address
> [mailto:Priselac.Adrienne@no.address]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 1:35 PM
> To: greenyes@no.address; JTRNET
> Subject: [greenyes] Wine Cork Recycling
> Does anyone have information about where to recycle wine corks in
> California or the West?
> Thanks!
> Adrienne Priselac
> US EPA Region 9
> Office of Solid Waste and Pollution Prevention
> (415)972-3285
> priselac.adrienne@no.address
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