Not much can beat opening up a bottle of wine on a hot Okanagan summer’s day, and Return-It has found a unique way to save the wine corks that are destined to go to the landfill each year.
Now, indulging in the fruits of the valley is that much sweeter because of the pilot program that is a partnership with Return-It and SOLE, a company that makes eco-friendly cork footwear.
“This really hasn’t been done before, where you try to collect cork from the public on such a large scale,” said Allen Langdon, Return-It CEO and president.
“We are going into it not knowing what to expect but I think at the end of the day the ultimate objective is keeping this material out of the landfill.”
Right now, the only Return-It location collecting natural wine corks is in West Kelowna at the Boucherie Self Storage & Bottle Depot. They are then sent to ReCork, which has a natural wine cork recycling program run by SOLE where they repurpose the material to become an eco-friendly alternative.
“Cork is a great material. It’s natural and it’s actually a carbon-negative material and it can be repurposed and in this case into new consumer items like footwear, where it can replace petroleum-based foams and plastic,” said Langdon.
All footwear is made from between 22 and 60 recycled wine corks. ReCork has been collecting wine corks since 2008 and has since collected thousands of corks.
“By using recycled cork we are prolonging the life of this sustainable versatile material and in addition, it has some benefits,” said Langdon.
“It’s environmentally friendly naturally elastic it’s moisture-wicking, it’s antimicrobial… I think it’s a great opportunity.”
The pilot program will run until December. If successful, it will be expanded across B.C.