The concept of recycling cork stoppers originated in Portugal, where in 2008 the Green Cork project was launched, a partnership between Corticeira Amorim and the main national environmental association, Quercus. It then spread to other countries, such as Spain, the USA and Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.
The recycled stoppers within Europe are treated and ground up in the world's first licensed cork recycling unit, which has been in operation since 2009, at Amorim Cork Composites, in Portugal. There they are transformed into granules and go back to being a raw material.
Although it shall never be used in stoppers again, the recycled cork can have a new lease of life and be used in coverings, insulation, memo boards, high competition kayaks, badminton rackets, tennis and cricket balls, car and aircraft components, design and fashion items and a multitude of other uses.
The incentive to recycle cork stoppers has conquered much more than the universe of wine consumers. Scouts groups, supermarkets, airports, sommeliers, restaurants, wineries and hotels have taken up the challenge. Examples include American Airlines, Diageo and Aria Resort & Hotel, one of the largest casinos in Las Vegas.