Plastic corks - should we stop using them?

Dear WS,

With all the information we now have on how badly plastic is damaging our planet, what message we are sending out if we all continue to accept bottles of wine corked with plastic?

Realised this when I opened one of the Society’s lovely Monetpulciano D’Abruzzo wines, but it has a plastic cork.

Any views?


Every time I see a synthetic/plastic cork, I wonder why it isn’t a screwcap.


Plastic isn’t damaging the planet, peoples disposal of it is.


Not only are they potentially bad for the environment but they are a bugger to remove.


I can’t remember the last time I had a wine with a plastic cork so I haven’t had to think about this for ages - are they recyclable?!

Beware, though. Modern plastic corks can be cunningly disguised, with a cork-like textures and printed lines and pores. I often initially think they a disguised Diam or similar.

I’m not a massive fan and thankfully, they seem to be vanishing albeit with some exceptions as above. They are difficult to open, aren’t great for the environment and aren’t even that good at closing a bottle up in the first place.

Screwcaps and technical corks (Diam et al) seem to be taking over but even they have their own drawbacks - as of course does cork. Of course, technical corks are up to 60% or so glue and plastic too unless one of the newer beeswax and plant based models.

Cork producers Amorim have published research on the environmental impact of various closures which as might be expected, shows cork some way ahead:


37 wines with plastic cork currently offered by TWS. Not too long to eradicate…


Looking through the list, I’m pretty sure one or two of those are no longer plastic as well so it may be even fewer in a week or so…


I open TWS Montepulciano d’a Abruzzo every week and long for it to move to screw cap.

But, FWIW, each of their plastic closures says they are recyclable so they go in the plastics and metal bin along with screwcaps, unlike old-fashioned corks which go in landfill.

(Some time ago for these wines Roxan used a plastic cork with an small opening with valve in it, which I suppose was for oxygen transfer… It made a useful guidance for the corkscrew.)


I agree with Herbster who recommends screwcap bottles. I realise there is a certain pleasure in pulling a cork. Less so with plastic bungs. For sheer convenience, screwcaps are invaluable.


Does anyone know if they break down in the garden compost? Lately I’ve been saving most of mine for a corkboard but I’ve often chucked them in the compost assuming the damp and the bugs will do for them eventually.

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Corks don’t break down within the usual composting time (nor do DIAM cork composites), at least for the period they take within our composters. I assume they would eventually do so over a more extended period, though I don’t know if the resin in DIAMs is biodegradable.

Of course, whether your corks (or your plastic corks or your screwcaps etc.) go to landfill depends on what your waste disposal authority does. Mine sends all domestic waste to incinerators which generate power from the heat raised. So only the resultant ash goes to landfill.

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Another problem with plastic corks.
Tonight using my corovin the needle was hard to push in and took two of us to pull out. You guessed it, plastic cork.
What would I do the if the needle got stuck.


From an old experiment very little happens and it takes years, the only way is put them through a shredder and mix with regular compost, makes a decent orchid compost that way if you have enough corks.


Hadn’t thought of that one - it’s a good suggestion if you have any orchids. After all, most orchid composts these days are bark-based anyway, which is what cork is.

But I use them as firelighter supplements to get the log fire going. I don’t think plastic corks would fare well for this.

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Thanks good news. Is the WS trying to encourage the suppliers to switch to either cork or screw cap?

I agree but it isn#t easy to dispose of so I think reducing use can only help.

I guess so, in the same way as much of the plastic we create is ‘recyclable’; but it depends so much on who is doing the recycling. As with plastic bottle mountains in the Far East, the bottles are recyclable but somehow still end up clogging rivers and oceans. I’m a terrible cynic and don’t really trust humans to do the right thing - even with a plastic cork :0)

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Not sure how recyclable plastic corks are, as they are a piece of plastic coated with food grade silicon, normally…