Guest Opinion: Recycle Cork To Replace Petroleum-Based Polymers and Foams

Guest Opinion: Recycle Cork To Replace Petroleum-Based Polymers and Foams

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Most individuals acknowledge that wine corks are particular. You pop them from the bottle, and that small cylinder of pure materials appears too good to toss within the trash. But you can recycle cork, and a brand new cork recycling program, ReCORK accepts corks by a community of public assortment companions throughout North America.

ReCORK turns corks right into a exceptional new materials developed by years of analysis and improvement: ReCORK Recycled Cork. This materials bends, flexes and cushions identical to an artificial foam, however with a tiny fraction of the environmental influence of the foams we see so typically which might be produced from petrochemicals. You can discover the closest ReCORK location to you by visiting

Inspired by a 75 12 months previous pure cork flooring.

ReCORK was based in 2008 by footwear firm SOLE, which has been making aftermarket insoles for sneakers since they launched in 2001. The firm was based to supply prospects ache aid and harm prevention by an reasonably priced different to prescription orthotics. In the mid 2000’s, founder Mike Baker grew to become decided to make sure that the model had a constructive influence not simply on the lives of their prospects, however on the planet too.

It was throughout this time that Baker spent a weekend away at a beachfront cottage with household pals. Over the weekend he was impressed by the cork flooring of the cottage. It felt nice underfoot, insulated in opposition to the chilly, and was in exceptional situation, 75 years after the cottage had been constructed. Baker began wanting into cork with extra curiosity, and what he discovered impressed him even additional.

The unimaginable sustainability of pure cork.

Cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak timber, each 9 to 12 years with out ever slicing a tree down. Harvesting the bark frequently really extends the lifespan of the tree from round 75 years to greater than 200 years. The harvest additionally stimulates the tree to extend its carbon consumption by as much as 5X (source).

Cork timber are harvested by hand in a talented commerce handed down over generations. These cork farmers develop and safeguard the timber, which in flip offers essential habitat for quite a few endangered species. The cork business is a unbelievable instance of conventional sustainable land use.

Having discovered this about cork, Baker and the SOLE crew grew to become decided to make the most of this unimaginable materials of their footwear merchandise.  They launched ReCORK to gather and recycle used pure wine corks, extending the helpful lifetime of a precious materials that was going to waste. In the years since, ReCORK has collected greater than 132 million corks for recycling.

Recycled cork in footwear and past.

The footwear business accounts for 700,000,000 kilograms of greenhouse gasoline emissions per 12 months, making up 1.4% of all global climate impacts. A big portion of that is because of carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based foams within the midsoles of so many sneakers. Cork can exchange that foam and has many traits apart from sustainability that make it excellent to be used in SOLE’s orthopedic insoles and footwear. It’s naturally light-weight, insulating, antimicrobial, rot-resistant and shock-absorbing.

Using cork in footwear isn’t new. There’s a longtime precedent for creating cork composite supplies that improve sturdiness to an extent. These supplies historically use floor cork amongst artificial binders and flexing brokers like latex. For probably the most half, they may use comparatively small proportions of cork (typically far lower than 50%). ReCORK Recycled Cork is overwhelmingly nonetheless cork: greater than 75%.

SOLE makes use of recycled cork in strains of insoles and sandals, however for all its strengths, pure cork has one main limitation: it’s brittle, snapping underneath stress. Footwear naturally undergoes a variety of dynamic forces, making the brittleness of cork a critical impediment to its potential purposes. To really unlock cork’s potential to be used in footwear, this brittleness wanted to be overcome. They additionally degrade when uncovered to water frequently.

It was this want that led the ReCORK R&D crew to innovate a totally new approach of working with cork. Their recycling course of grinds down the cork and recombines it utilizing a patented approach to create a singular new materials. ReCORK Recycled Cork bends, flexes and rebounds. It’s light-weight and cushioning. It gives all of the purposeful strengths of artificial foams like PU and EVA. It’s additionally impervious to water.

The materials made its debut earlier this 12 months in SOLE’s newest providing, the Jasper Chukka. While footwear has been the preliminary focus, the potential purposes for ReCORK Recycled Cork are virtually limitless. ReCORK hopes to maximise their constructive influence by changing artificial foams in shopper merchandise throughout numerous industries.

Recycle corks to assist ReCORK set a brand new customary for sustainable supplies.

Find your native cork drop-off level and produce them your pure corks! No drop-off factors in your group? Any group can signal as much as be a Public Collection Partner, gathering corks and transport them to ReCORK. Suggest to your native liquor retailer or grocer that they enroll, or enroll your workplace constructing.

You may also recommend to your native bar or restaurant that they signal as much as be a Private Collection Partner. These companions don’t acquire from the general public, however ship ReCORK the pure corks they use throughout their common enterprise.

About the Author

Paul Maughan-Brown is the phrases man, the press releases and product descriptions man, the weblog posts and banner-mantras man at SOLE.