Why and How to Recycle Wine Bottle Corks

Wine bottle corks

Some things are so small that recycling them doesn't seem like a big deal. Take wine bottle corks. They are very small and biodegradable. Why not just throw them in the trash?

It takes the Cork Oak Tree about 25 years before the cork can be harvested from it. After that cork can be harvested from the tree every 9 years, but only cork from the very first harvest of a tree is suitable for wine corks.

Wine corks cannot be reused as wine corks because of bacterial concerns, but they can be recycled into many other useful objects such as pushpin corkboards, coasters and flooring. If the home improvement shows are any indication, cork flooring is becoming a popular option. In one weekend, I saw three home shows on HGTV that used cork flooring in their designs. Each show mentioned how environmentally friendly cork is.

While cork is environmentally friendly and renewable, it takes a long time to renew. It makes sense to recycle what cork products there already are.

So where can you recycle your wine corks? The US is a behind other countries and there aren't many programs, yet, but there are a few options.

You can send them (at your own cost) to a program called Korks 4 Kids, a not-for-profit program, organized through Recycle Cork USA, LLC. to raise funds from the recycling of cork for Children's Charities.

They can also be sent (again, at your own cost) to Yemm & Hart, a green materials company that will recycle them into products.