Natural cork, the kind used in wine closures, is a perfect choice for recycling. It's 100 percent natural, biodegradable and renewable, with a myriad of applications including flooring, insulation, automotive gaskets and more. Cork oak trees, an important source of carbon dioxide sequestration, are not harmed or cut down to produce corks, the bark of the tree is sustainably harvested. In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study of the life cycle analysis of wine closures, CO2 emissions in aluminum screwcaps were 24 times higher than those from a natural cork closure, while plastic stoppers were about 10 times greater than cork.
Because of a worldwide interest in sustainable agriculture and natural products like cork, an alliance of concerned businesses, individuals, and ecological organizations has been formed to address the opportunities to recycle natural cork closures, reduce energy usage and conserve precious resources. Until ReCORK was established, no organized wine cork recycling effort was in place. The ReCORK program is linked to a global initiative to save and protect over six million acres of cork forest that dot the Mediterranean Basin, which are so vital to the local economies, support an ecosystem found only in the montado, and are key to the battle against global warming.
SOLE has worked to expand the network of collection and recycling partners, working with vineyards, supermarkets and restaurants to collect used corks. ReCORK recycling partners include American Airlines/Sodexo, The Wine Tasting Network, Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Rodney Strong Wine Estates, Cakebread Cellars, Whole Foods, the Culinary Institute of America, Rutherford Wine Co. and PlumpJack.
Corks are stored until large amounts can be shipped efficiently to a grinding facility. Currently, the ground cork gets sent to Asia to produce SOLE's products. This is more sustainable than it sounds for a few reasons. First, the ships going back to Asia from North America tend to be empty due to the trade deficit. By using boats that would be empty otherwise, SOLE is creating less of a carbon footprint than if more boats were needed to ship the cork. Secondly, instead of shipping oil from the Middle East, SOLE is shipping lighter, more sustainable cork from North America.
"Sustainability concerns all of our actions here at SOLE," says Rob Nathan, SOLE's Product Director. "We started experimenting with cork, and developed a unique cork blend that both enhances the material properties of of our products, and reduces the amount of petroleum-based products that would normally be used."
"We've been able to grow what started as a small material sourcing project, into a worldwide recycling effort," adds SOLE President Mike Baker.
About ReCORK and Amorim
ReCORK is a natural cork recycling program sponsored by Amorim of Portugal, its US affiliates, Portocork America and Amorim Cork America, and SOLE. For additional information, visit ReCORK.org or SaveMiguel.com
Tracing its roots to the 19th century, Amorim has become the largest cork and cork-derived product company in the world, generating over Euro 450 million in sales throughout more than 100 countries. Amorim and its subsidiaries are an integral part of a conservation effort to guarantee the survival of hundreds of thousands of cork oak trees throughout the Mediterranean Basin. Amorim is proud of its contributions to the correct utilization of these important forests that represent a key role in CO2 retention, preserving biodiversity and preventing desertification. Information about Amorim of Portugal can be found at Amorim.com/en and CorkFacts.com.
SOLE is known for its line of supportive, do-it-yourself, heat moldable custom footbeds. SOLE has extended its expertise in foot health and comfort to a line of footwear, including sandals and closed-toe options, as well as their new and improved Performance Socks. In 2009, SOLE partnered with ReCORK to make products with natural, sustainable cork, and reduce the amount of petroleum products that would normally be used. SOLE products are used by world-class athletes such as Ed Viesturs, Dean Karnazes and Chris Davenport, as well as dozens of professional teams in the NFL, NBA and MLB, and the US and Canadian Military. For more information on SOLE, go to yourSOLE.com or call 866-235-SOLE.