ReCORK Creates High-Performance, Carbon-Negative Composite Materials And Components Using Natural Recycled Cork

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Below is our recent interview with Alex Cronje, Partnership and Impact Specialist at ReCORK™:

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?

A: ReCORK™ creates high-performance, carbon-negative composite materials and components using natural recycled cork. ReCORK™ was launched as a natural wine cork recycling program in 2008 by Canadian footwear company SOLE™. ReCORK has established an extensive network of collection partners across North America, working together to recycle more than 130 million natural corks to date, becoming the largest program of its kind in North America, with an R&D team dedicated to innovation around the cork recycling process.

SOLE™ is a Canadian footwear brand, founded in Vancouver in 2001 and creator of the original custom moldable footbed. SOLE’s mission is to help people live active, pain-free lives while having the least possible impact on the planet. SOLE’s award-winning footbeds are the consumer’s choice for supportive insoles, reducing pain and fatigue in the feet of millions. Building on the success of footbeds, SOLE launched into footwear that is great for your feet and gentle on the earth. SOLE strongly believes that we have a responsibility to consider the impact our actions have on the environment, which is why they are blazing a trail for sustainability in footwear. From product design and development, to material sourcing and creation, SOLE is committed to providing quality and comfort that doesn’t come at the cost of the planet. SOLE is an active member of 1% For The Planet, with a portion of every SOLE purchase supporting ReCORK’s cork recycling initiative.

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Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?

  • A: We’re so delighted to have reached this latest milestone in our cork collection and recycling efforts, 130 million corks diverted from the waste stream to be repurposed into high-performance running gear.
  • We couldn’t have done this without the help of all our amazing ReCORK Collection Partners, both new and old.
  • 1,919 public drop-off locations <> across United States and Canada
  • 1,668 private collection partners
  • For context, those corks laid end-to-end would stretch 3,535 miles—flying across the Atlantic Ocean from NYC to Paris is roughly 3,627 miles.

Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?

A: We believe that almost all people will choose products with a better impact on the planet, as long as it doesn’t mean compromising on quality. That’s where ReCORK comes in.

Cork grows as the bark of the cork oak tree. It’s harvested by hand every 9-12 years without ever cutting a tree down. Every bit of the bark gets used: wine corks are stamped out, used as bottle stoppers and recycled by businesses and individuals like you. The trimmings are ground down and mixed with the recycled wine corks, to create ReCORK™ Recycled Cork. Creating this revolutionary material requires far less energy and water than synthetic foams. The result is footwear components that are sustainable every step of the way, from origin to end-point.

For each ton of cork harvested, cork oak forests absorb an average of 55 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. This means that a single cork represents 55 times its own weight in carbon sequestered. We account for the carbon absorbed by cork oak forests so that consumers can see exactly how much better it is to choose natural cork than petroleum-based materials. We provide accurate labelling of a product’s CO2e emissions that gives you a measure you can compare and contrast. It adds clarity and legitimacy in the murky world of greenwashing and unsubstantiated claims of sustainability.

Consumers should have the ability to take more control over their day-to-day environmental impact. When products are labelled with their CO2e emissions, consumers can make informed purchasing decisions based on the impact they want to have.

By producing these material solutions we’re working to pioneer a better, lower-impact future for the footwear industry and beyond.

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Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?

A: We have innovated entirely new ways of working with cork. Our patented material compounds ensure sustainability without compromising on quality, performance or durability. ReCORK™ aims to revolutionize the footwear industry by producing a groundbreaking new material that offers all the functional benefits of a petroleum based foam, while consisting of more than 75% recycled natural cork.

ReCORK’s proprietary material, ReCORK™ Recycled Cork, redefines what’s possible using cork, offering a natural, sustainable, versatile alternative to foams and plastics derived from fossil fuels. Our mission is to make petroleum-based foams and plastics obsolete.