Reduce, Reuse, Recork

By Wine Press Staff

Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV) was the first winery in the world to receive certification from the Rainforest Alliance for using 100-percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified cork. With the new Cork Re-Harvest program, it becomes the first winery to launch a cork-recycling program with zero increase to its carbon footprint.

WVV Founder and President Jim Bernau said the new program is needed to sustain the cork forests of Portugal, Spain and other cork-producing countries. Part of the program’s goal is to raise awareness of the sustainability of the Mediterranean cork forests.

“The cork forests are second only to the Amazon Rainforest in their importance to the world’s biosphere,” he noted. Additionally, “high quality natural cork is the best way to preserve wine quality.”

The Cork Re-Harvest program is a collaboration with WVV, Whole Foods Market, the Rainforest Alliance, WVV’s Oregon and Washington distributors, and Western Pulp Products. Recycling boxes will be placed in the 11 Whole Foods Market stores in this region. When distributors deliver wine to these stores, they will pick up the cork and return it to their warehouse. The cork will be transported to Western Pulp when WVV makes its current deliveries to the Corvallis warehouse.

Erez Klein, regional purchasing specialist at Whole Foods Market Pacific Northwest Region, said its consumers have been asking for a cork-recycling program.

“We are thrilled to extend services to our shoppers that benefit the community,” Klein said. “Providing the smallest possible carbon footprint in cork recycling is something we are proud to offer. This program is consistent with the core values of our company.”

Chris Gibbons, of the Rainforest Alliance, noted the wine industry plays a critical role in protecting cork oak forests on the Iberian Peninsula.

“The Rainforest Alliance applauds Willamette Valley Vineyards for being a sustainability leader in the Pacific Northwest,” Gibbons said. “Not only are they sourcing their cork from FSC-certified cork forests, but also taking the next step and establishing a cork-recycling program to help mitigate the use of virgin cork.” ◊

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