Pilot mission for cork recycling in West Kelowna – Okanagan

Opening a bottle of wine on a hot summer day in Okanagan can’t be much better than opening a bottle of wine, and Return-It has come up with a unique way to save the wine corks that go to the landfill every year.

Now it’s much sweeter to enjoy the fruits of the valley thanks to the pilot program that is in partnership with Return-It and SOLE, a company that makes environmentally friendly cork shoes.

“This really has never been done before trying to collect cork from the public on such a large scale,” said Allen Langdon, CEO and President of Return-It.

“We go into it without knowing what to expect, but I think ultimately the ultimate goal is to keep this material out of the landfill.”

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Currently, the only Return-It location that collects natural wine corks is in West Kelowna at the Boucherie Self Storage & Bottle Depot. They are then sent to ReCork, which runs a natural wine cork recycling program run by SOLE, which recycles the material into an environmentally friendly alternative.

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“Cork is a great material. It is naturally and actually a carbon negative material and can be reused and, in this case, in new consumer products like shoes, where it can replace petroleum-based foams and plastic, “said Langdon.

All shoes are made from 22 to 60 recycled wine corks. ReCork has been collecting wine corks since 2008 and has collected thousands of corks since then.

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“By using recycled cork, we are extending the life of this sustainable, versatile material and it has a number of benefits,” said Langdon.

“It’s environmentally friendly, naturally elastic, it wicks away moisture, it’s antimicrobial … I think it’s a great opportunity.”

The pilot program runs until December. If successful, it will be expanded to BC

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