I had no idea, but did you realize some 13 billion natural wine corks wind up in U.S. landfills every year?
That’s a lot of corks — and a lot of waste considering they could be put to good use as materials for sustainable flooring and shoes.
Moving forward, a local restaurant company is trying to help reduce those numbers and all that waste.
It’s a new partnership between Houlihan’s restaurant and bar and ReCORK.
Houlihan’s announced last week the deal which is dedicated to keeping corks out of landfills and re-purposing them into practical products. Not only will Houlihan’s recycle every wine cork popped, but all of it’s area restaurants will serve as drop-off recycling centers where guests can bring in their natural corks from home.
“ReCork is a great partnership for us as it links together two things we’re passionate about — doing good and drinking wine,” said Jen Gulvik, senior vice president of marketing and creative director for Houlihan’s.
“We read about what ReCork was doing with recycled cork and immediately looked to be part of the solution.”
Gulvik said it was obvious the restaurants were going through a lot of cork, so it only made sense to include customers in the recycle program.
“Why not give them the opportunity to recycle at Houlihan’s?” she said. “We can finally help answer the question —what do I do with all this cork?”
Gulvik said it feels greats to be part of the solution to help re-purpose cork rather than throwing them away and harvesting more trees.
“If you’re tired of looking at that vase full of corks, and have come to the realization that you’ll likely never get around to that cork project you’ve long envisioned, just leave those corks with us and we’ll recycle them,” Gulvik said.
ReCORK re-purposes natural corks into many products, including sustainable footwear through its partnership with SOLE. ReCORK said it would grind down all corks recycled by and dropped off at Holihan’s locations to create soles for shoes and sandals.
“Even though cork is 100 percent natural, renewable, and biodegradable, most wine corks end up in landfills,” said ReCORK’s Matt Hughes. “By partnering with Houlihan’s, we’re one step closer to helping spread the word and increasing awareness about the importance of cork recycling.”
I was curious about just how much cork would be recycled, but turns out, that might be tough to track.
“ReCORK may track it for us, but that would only be what they’ve received, not what’s still being collected at the stores,” Gulvik said. “Stores hold up to 30 pounds, which is 3,000 corks, before they pack it up and ship it to ReCORK, so there’s probably a lot out there that we can’t track.”
Suffice it to say, it’s going to be a lot. Houlihan’s said it has 100-percent participation, all 82 of its restaurants in 18 states.
For a list of locations, visitHoulihan’s website
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.