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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Willamette Valley Vineyards and Whole Foods Market Launch Cork ReHarvest Program

An Oregon winery is teaming up with Whole Foods Markets, the Rainforest Alliance and Western Pulp Products on a program to recycle corks from wine bottles as a way to protect the environment.

According to Willamette Valley Vineyards the cork forests of the Mediterranean are second to the Amazon Forest in importance to the world’s biosphere. A number of groups, including the Rainforest Alliance, say the increased usage of plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps is cutting the demand for cork and placing the forests at risk. We covered the issue in an earlier post, pointing out that some predict up to 75 percent of the Mediterranean's cork forests could disappear in the next decade. Cork is harvested in Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France. Cork is harvested by stripping off the bark from a live cork oak, which requires more than four decades to reach maturity. The tree is left standing and the bark grows back in nine years, when it can be stripped again.

The groups launching the Cork ReHarvest program note that cork trees naturally remove carbon from the air and and pump oxygen back into the atmosphere. They say that manufacturing aluminum screw caps and synthetic corks has a negative impact on the environment.

Western Pulp Products in Corvallis, Ore., will recycle the cork into shippers for protecting wine bottles. It's estimated that the wine industry uses 15 billion corks a year, most of which end up in landfills.

1 comment:

Willamette Valley Vineyards said...

Thanks Rick for featuring our Cork Re-Harvest program! It is exciting to see the program go from 11 Whole Foods stores in Oregon and Washington less than a year ago to now spanning the nation.