Plastic corks - should we stop using them?

We are going horticultural again on a wine theme !
I used to grow orchids and had a very good producer at the time in Essex, he would always be trying different mediums for orchid compost, mostly bark based and I suggested to him the cork remedy, he laughed as he said he did not have nearly enough corks.
I soon remedied that as I had been collecting them, god knows what for, but there was enough for a trial batch after I put them through the garden shredder, they worked well on their own and mixed, obviously nowhere near enough for commercial use but interesting if you are interested in orchids which I suspect few are !
The grower by the way finished up using fibreglass as his compost for orchids and it does work well though I have not seen anyone else using it since.


Haven’t heard of that one, but I have heard of mineral roof insulation being used, which I suppose is a close relative.

OK, I promise to shut up about horticultural things!

Same thing…

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For the Society’s Montepulciano I’d rather they used the current recycleable plastic closures than cork. I don’t age these wines and the plastic closed bottles won’t be corked and they’ll taste of fresh fruit rather than be contaminated with cork.

I’d prefer screwcap but the Roxan co-operative would need to buy a screw cap machine (and they may not have a modular bottling line into which they can insert screwcap machine) and buy more precise screw cap bottles.

With plastic closures they can use the same bottles and bottling line for either cork or plastic as per customer demand.


I understand the poroblem with composting cork is that it is water-resistant. The reason other barks may compost is probably one of the reasons we don’t use them to seal wine bottles.

Personally I think plastic stoppers are fine for the vast majority of wines - those not meant to be kept more than a few years. I would rather have plastic than a cheap, poor-quality cork in such wines. Though screwcaps are fine too, and “technical corks”. Anything that does not dose my wine with TCA.


Just had a very brief chat with one of our buyers, Freddy, and while their main focus is - as ever - on the wine in the bottle, they are very environmentally conscious so it’s something they’re looking into. :slight_smile: Watch this space!

Luckily, like Simon said, we sell very few wines with plastic corks already.

Great composting tips, by the way guys! :smiley:

The smaller the item, the greater the debate. Plastic bungs are about 1.5 inches long and half inch thick. Cotton buds and plastic cups are also small, but they provoke huge debate. However, larger items go unnoticed. What do they do with fibreglass boats once the have reached the end of their lives?


There is a coming solution…


Thanks Cerberus, that’s encouraging. But the process seems expensive. It’s not as if melted fiberglass has intrinsic value. But as for landfill, which the article seems to recommend, that’s an awful solution.

In the 1960’s, we thought we were very clever in using an oil bi-product because it would save trees. But nobody said that it takes a hundred years to grow a tree whereas it takes a million to produce a barrel of oil. Wood is sustainable. Oil is not. We should return to building boats from timber.

This leads back to bottle enclosures. Cork is more sustainable than oil. (I understand it takes 10 years for cork to re-form on trees). So the answer is to grow more cork trees.


I give natural corks a good mincing and top dress the perennial beds. I’m not sure any “goodness” comes from them but it does add texture/drainage to beds and large decorative containers.

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