Recycling Cork for the Environment
For winemakers, there’s no substitute for natural cork. The cork that they use for their wines has to be new due to safety concerns. It so happens that there are other uses for cork and that they don’t require that the cork be new. Because of this, there is quite an industry for cork recycling.
Not everywhere has cork recycling as of yet. In most places in the US, you’d have to track down a cork recycler in your local area and there may not even be one. The industry for cork recycling, however, is expanding all the time and there are more opportunities to participate.
The benefits of cork recycling are a bit more complex than they are for other forms of recycling. There are two primary benefits that are easy to understand.
First, a cork tree takes more than 2 decades to produce. This means that there is a very limited supply of this material to go around. Because it’s so rare, it tends to go to the highest-priced industry more than any other; winemaking.
Second, there are a host of excellent building materials that can be produced from recycled cork. The wine industry may not need the used cork, but the manufacturers of flooring are only one industry sector that have a significant need for this material.
Recycled cork building material is environmentally friendly in more than the sense of being made of a recycled material. The building materials themselves are durable, energy-efficient and easy to work with. They’re also very profitable. Cork flooring has taken off as a viable building material and there are plenty of wine bottles being uncorked every day, which means that there’s always a new supply of raw materials to work with to make cork building materials.