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You have questions and here we have answers to your most frequently asked questions.
Does it cost anything?
There is no cost to register as a ReCORK recycling partner. The cost involved would be shipping the corks you collect to us.
How does the cork shipping process work?
Corks are shipped directly to our closest processing facility. Send your corks in a large, used cardboard box. Shipments of cork between 15 to 30 pounds are the most economically and environmentally efficient.
Why do I have to pay to ship my corks?
Unlike most other recycling programs, the service provided by ReCORK is free. Since the beginning, we’ve been committed not to ask for any enrollment or membership fees from our partners. But running a recycling service requires significant logistical and operational costs and unfortunately it is no longer economically sustainable for us to pay for the shipping of partners' corks.
Are you making money from the corks I’m sending you for free?
We are an independent organization with no government funding or participation/enrollment fees. We need an income to exist. We do sell products and materials made with the corks our partners send us, but our primary goal is not to earn profit. Our primary goal is to make a positive difference in the world by harnessing the potential of an incredible material that without you, and without us, will otherwise go to waste.
Do you buy corks?
We do not buy corks from anybody. We offer a service for companies and individuals who would like to recycle their corks in order to minimize their impact on the planet.
Public Collection Partners
What does it mean to be a Public Collection partner?
Public Collection Partners collect corks from their customers and other members of the public.
Private Collection Partners
What does it mean to be a Private Collection partner?
Private Collection Partners are businesses that collect cork privately as part of doing business.
Cork recycling as an individual
I have a few corks. Where can I drop them off?
If you only have a small amount of cork, please drop it off at a Public Collection Partner in your area, rather than shipping it to us.
I have lots of cork. Can I ship it directly to you?
We are happy to receive corks directly from individuals, but please only do so if you have 15lbs or more as this is the threshold for environmentally efficient shipments. Please do not send corks to us in small individual shipments; instead, encourage your friends to save their corks until you reach 15 pounds. Then reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on where to ship your corks.
Are any other organizations carbon negative?
Yes! There is a precedent for this, and it comes from the cork industry.
One of our primary collection partners, Amorim, is the largest cork producer in the world, and they are proudly carbon negative.
How do you measure your carbon footprint?
In 2013, we initiated a full carbon footprint assessment of the ReCORK program.
We are committed to complete transparency, so we will post the ongoing assessment of our footprint and the tracking of our carbon offsetting for all to see. The initial report can be seen here.
Can you tell me more about being "carbon negative"?
"Carbon negative" refers to the reduction of an entity's carbon footprint to less than neutral, so that the entity in question has a net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it. That achievement requires a more aggressive approach than carbon neutrality, which merely nullifies the effect that an entity has on the environment. To become carbon negative, an individual or organization needs to assess the total carbon emissions created by their operations and existence. Once their carbon emissions have been quantified, that number represents their carbon footprint. Carbon-negative status can be achieved by a number of means, including greater carbon sequestration and obtaining carbon offsets from a third party, as well as engaging in activities that directly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Such activities include planting trees, generating green energy and improving energy efficiency.
More information on the carbon benefits of cork can be found in the reports and documents linked here.
Couldn't anyone be carbon negative if they just planted enough trees?
Yes! We encourage all companies to do just that. We would love to see everyone quantify their impact on the environment and take action to reduce or eliminate that impact.
Since launching ReCORK, we have made tree planting an integral part of our business. We don't just plant trees, we plant cork oak trees. Cork oak trees are especially good at pulling carbon out of the air. The cork oaks we plant will one day be mature enough to harvest and contribute to the supply of one of the world's most sustainable raw materials. We aim to do so much more than just offsetting our footprint. We are helping build and grow cork forests which offset carbon, prevent desertification, provide habitat and create jobs.
Is planting cork oak trees a legitimate carbon offset?
Absolutely! Cork oaks are among the best carbon sinks because they are never cut down. Only the bark is harvested, keeping the carbon locked away inside for centuries.
Where does ReCORK plant trees?
We have planted over 8,000 new cork oak trees in the Mediterranean forest in partnership with Quercus (the National Association for Nature Conservation) and the Criar Bosques project in Portugal.
Moving all those recycled corks around seems like it would have a pretty big carbon footprint. How does all that work?
From the beginning, we knew that we would need to minimize the carbon footprint of the collection process. We built our network with multiple collection points and grinding facilities designed to minimize transportation and optimize efficiency. We strongly encourage partners to use a carbon offsetting program when shipping us their corks.
As the scope of ReCORK expands, we will continually adjust our processes to complement the evolution of our growth. There is no finish line in this process. It is a challenge, but also a great opportunity to minimize the transportation footprint of the cork we collect.
What can I do locally to support Recycling Partners?
Patronize your local Recycling Partners. If you spot a ReCORK Recycling Partner decal on a storefront window, that business supports ReCORK. Our partners often include restaurants, wine bars, and vineyards. Help them in their recycling efforts by stopping in for a glass of wine!
Are wines with natural corks better for the environment?
When you reach for a bottle, look for those with natural corks. Buying bottles with natural cork promotes cork harvesting, which extends the lifespan of cork trees and supports the conservation over 6.7 million acres of ecologically sensitive cork forests.
How do I know which wines use natural corks?
Find natural cork at recork.com/corkwatch.
How can I support cork forests?
The best thing you can do to support the cork forest is to choose cork products whenever possible. There is a common myth that we are facing a cork shortage. In reality, the single greatest threat to the cork forests is a reduction in global demand. If you stop buying cork, then cork forests really will disappear!
Why are you guys so excited about cork anyway?
We love cork! It is an amazing and unique natural raw material.
What we know as "corks" are actually just the bark of a cork oak tree. The bark is harvested from live trees by hand every nine years. The process causes no harm and the tree does not get cut down. In fact, bark harvesting helps the tree grow bigger and extends its lifespan to over 200 years.
The larger a cork oak grows, the more carbon dioxide it locks away. It's sealed right in! Because the bark is harvested regularly and the tree never gets cut down, cork oak trees are amazing carbon sinks.
Clearly, we could talk about how great cork is all day long, but you should really check it out for yourself. More information on the benefits of cork can be found in the reports and documents linked here.
I've heard there is a shortage of cork in the world. Is that true?
The answer is no. This is a common myth. In reality, the single greatest threat to the cork forests is a reduction in global demand. Support the cork forest by choosing cork products whenever possible.