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First cork recycling scheme in the UK

A corking idea – London’s first natural cork recycling partnership links one of the capital’s top hotels with the largest independent wine merchant in the world.

The Savoy, which recently re-opened after a three-year restoration, is committed to becoming the most sustainable luxury hotel in London and has introduced several ‘green’ initiatives. As has Theale-based Laithwaites, which owns 11 stores in the UK, including its London flagship store, The Arch and direct online sales and wine clubs.

The two companies have joined the I Love Natural Cork campaign to show the public how cork is 100 per cent natural, recyclable and renewable.

Since January 1 this year, The Savoy and Simpson’s in the Strand (which is owned by the hotel) have been collecting their used corks, including those from the Savoy Grill and American Bar.

These will be collected by Laithwaites on a regular basis, shredded into a garden ‘mulch’ that keeps moisture in and weeds out, and then spread on Laithwaites’ vineyard at Theale. Soon, other vineyards in Berkshire and Oxfordshire will also be able to benefit from this unique ‘bark to bottle to vineyard’ natural cork recycling.

The I Love Natural Cork campaign was launched in July 2010 by the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) and aims to recruit both wine consumers and those in the trade to choose wine with natural cork stoppers because of cork’s environmental, economic and social/cultural benefits.

Carlos de Jesus, operational director of APCOR, said: “We are delighted to have the support of The Savoy and Laithwaites for this high profile recycling project. What better way to show retailers and consumers alike how a natural cork’s life does not end when it is pulled from a bottle.  Instead, it lives on with the soil, protecting the next generation of grapes until they are harvested, vinified, bottled and sealed with cork.  Naturally.”

Debra Patterson, environmental ambassador for The Savoy, commented, “Since re-opening we have been trying hard to recycle as much as possible, and we are delighted to support this innovative scheme. The Savoy is a place associated with drinking, dining and celebrations and so we hope to be able to contribute a substantial number of corks, thus showing the way for other properties to follow our example.”

Tony Laithwaite, founder and owner of Laithwaites Wine concluded: “This is a corking idea. Our customers like us to think about the future.  Making sure corks are re-used and recycled is one way we can be play a small part in looking after our planet, so in turn it can look after us and help us to keep growing the grapes we need, to make the great wines they love.”

About is a campaign to recruit UK wine consumers to choose wine with natural cork stoppers because of cork’s environmental, economic and social/cultural benefits. The campaign seeks to educate, organise and recruit wine drinkers to request that wine producers and retailers choose natural cork over artificial closures. The campaign is funded by APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association.


About APCOR – Portuguese Cork Association
APCOR’s mission is to represent and promote the Portuguese Cork Industry, with almost 250 members, representing around 80% of the total national cork production and 85% of all cork exports. APCOR is also responsible for promotional activities, with added value to cork, on both a national and international scale, in addition, as extensive Information Resource Centre on cork.

About The Savoy, A Fairmont Managed Hotel

  • During The Savoy’s restoration, nearly £3 million was invested in The Savoy’s environmental technologies. The carbon reduction strategy implemented by The Savoy will see carbon emissions permanently reduced by 3000 tonnes of C02 per annum and energy consumption reduced by at least 40%.
  • The Savoy is a founder member of the UK Sustainable Restaurant Association, a member of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, a partner of the Considerate Hoteliers Association and was recently awarded Gold by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
  • In 2008, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts became the first luxury hotel brand to address climate change by pledging to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Their Green Partnership Program continues to be recognised by a number of international organisations including the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

About Laithwaites

  • Laithwaites Wine is part of Direct Wines Ltd, which is the world's largest independent wine merchant with annual sales in excess of £340 million. Direct Wines Ltd currently has operations in the UK, United States of America, Hong Kong, Australia and mainland Europe. Customers are encouraged to return their corks to Laithwaites 11 shops.  From there they are shredded and used for mulch on vineyards, donated to a local special school for pupils to use for model making and other projects and used as kindling for fires.




1 March 2011 - Felicity Murray