Put a Cork in Global Warming: Recycle Those Wine Corks 
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 10:06AM
off the vine

By: Laura Sabo  In January, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Whole Foods Markets, the Rainforest Alliance and Western Pulp Products introduced the Cork Re-Harvest Program in an effort to make consumers aware about the importance of recycling cork from wine bottles.

Why not make this a habit and part of your recycling routine? It’s easy and a win-win situation.

According to Jim Bernau, founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV), “The new program is necessary to sustain the cork forests of cork producing countries, including Spain and Portugal.” Cork trees naturally remove carbon from the air and sequester it in their bark and pump oxygen back into the atmosphere. If we choose wine sealed with natural cork, we help the environment.”

The cork forests are second only to the Amazon Rainforest in their importance to the world’s biosphere. With the increased use of plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps, consumers are reducing the use of natural cork, thus increasing the danger of global warming. According to Bernau, “High quality natural cork is the best way to preserve wine quality so if consumers continue the use of cork, we need to be responsible for the recycling of it.”

Willamette Valley Vineyards was the first winery in the world to receive certification from the Rainforest Alliance for using 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cork. With the new Cork Re-Harvest Program, it becomes the first winery to launch a cork recycling program with zero increase to its carbon footprint.

Erez Klein, Regional Purchasing Specialist at Whole Foods Market Pacific Northwest Region, said, “Consumers have been asking for a cork recycling program and we are happy to respond to consumer demands.”

Rainforest Alliance’s Chris Gibbons says, “The Rainforest Alliance applauds Willamette Valley Vineyards for being a sustainability leader in the Pacific Northwest. Not only are they sourcing their cork from FSC certified cork forests, but they’re taking the next step and establishing a cork recycling program to help mitigate the use of virgin cork.”

Recycling boxes have been placed in all 11 Whole Foods Markets in the Pacific Northwest Region. When distributors deliver wine to Whole Foods, they’ll pick up the cork and return it to their warehouse. The cork is then transported to Western Pulp when WVV makes deliveries to their warehouse.

If successful, the Cork Re-Harvest Program will launch across the US in the next few months. As consumers, we can all help put a cork in global warming. After all, how many cork boards made of wine corks does one need?





Article originally appeared on off the vine magazine (http://offthevinemagazine.com/).
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