B.C.'s Return-It program launches wine cork recycling program in West Kelowna
Corks collected will be shipped to Calgary for making eco-friendly footwear material
For people living in the Central Okanagan wine country, a bottle cork is no longer something to toss away as garbage.
On June 1, B.C.'s Return-It program introduced a pilot project to recycle wine corks at West Kelowna's Boucherie Self Storage and Bottle Depot — and to turn them into environmentally friendly footwear material.
The non-profit program will ship the oak stoppers to Calgary-based recycling company ReCORK for processing and transforming into plastic alternatives for footbeds, shoes and sandals manufactured by footwear company SOLE.
According to ReCORK, each pair of its eco-friendly footwear contains 22 to 60 wine corks, which it says can absorb moisture and reduce odour.
But not all wine corks are recyclable. Return-It asks drinkers not to drop in corks that are synthetic, waxed or attached with a plastic bar-top.
Return-It president and CEO Allen Langdon says it makes sense to do the pilot in the middle of a wine country like West Kelowna. It's possible the pilot will expand into a provincewide initiative, he said.
"If we're getting good volumes [of wine corks], then we'll look for opportunities to expand the program," Langdon told Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South.
Langon said he's interested in what he called a "circular economy," where the company finds multiple ways for the corks to be reused.
ReCORK says Pointe-Claire, Que., was the first Canadian municipality to adopt wine-cork recycling with the company, in Jan. 2019.
With files from Daybreak South