The Cork Re-Harvest program will collect used corks through boxes at the region’s Whole Foods Markets and take them to Western Pulp Products in Corvallis, where they will be transformed into recycled cork shippers for protecting wine bottles.
Willamette Valley Vineyards was the first winery in the world to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance for using 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified cork. The Cork Re-Harvest program goes a step further, reusing corks instead of adding them to the 15 billion corks produced each year for the wine industry that end up almost entirely in landfills.
The winery is active in sustainable practices, including organic certification from Oregon Tilth, Salmon Safe certification and the use of biodiesel in all winery equipment.
The recycling boxes will have information sheets about cork harvesting, the sustainability of cork forests and the global environmental and economic impact of cork forests.
“The cork forests are second only to the Amazon rainforest in their importance to the world’s biosphere,” said Jim Bernau, founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards.