Bartender Tom Shaw brought up the idea of launching a property-wide wine cork recycling program at the Charlottesville, Va. club, and with encouragement from Beverage Manager Andrew Woodland, he organized the initiative that got underway in November 2021. “It’s a small step, but it’s something we can do to eliminate unnecessary waste,” says Food & Beverage Service Manager Rebecca Wyskiel.
Sometimes the smallest gesture can make the biggest impact.
With its cork recycling program, Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., is undertaking an easy initiative to have an outsized effect on the environment. And it all started when one staff member made a simple suggestion.
Bartender Tom Shaw brought up the idea of launching a property-wide wine cork recycling program, and with encouragement from Beverage Manager Andrew Woodland, he organized the initiative that got underway in November 2021.
“It’s a small step, but it’s something we can do to eliminate unnecessary waste,” says Food & Beverage Service Manager Rebecca Wyskiel.
To recycle the wine corks, Farmington has partnered with a local business called Re-Cork C’ville. The initiative was started with the hopes of decreasing unnecessary waste and reducing Charlottesville’s carbon footprint through recycling used wine corks from consumers, vineyards, restaurants, and retailers.
Of the almost 15 billion wine corks that are sold into the world market each year, the majority of them end up in landfills. Because it is 100% natural, biodegradable, and renewable, however, cork is a perfect product for recycling. It can be used to make products such as cork flooring, shoe soles, soil conditioner, sports equipment, building insulation, and more.
At Farmington, food and beverage outlets across the club informed their teams to no longer dispose of corks. Instead, four different outlets throughout the property collect them in designated bins. Once the bin is full, the Food and Beverage managers deliver them to Woodland’s office. When the bin in his office is full, he delivers them to Re-Cork C’ville, which has several collection sites in the area, for recycling.
Woodland has been working with Re-Cork C’ville to market the recycling system as well as to spread awareness about the project to the Farmington membership. He has promoted the program in Farmington’s newsletter and in its Wine Society newsletter.
Farmington’s Wine Society has monthly wine tastings, and corks are recycled from these events, as well.
The membership has bought into the program with so much enthusiasm that their efforts have extended beyond the property itself.
“Some members have brought in their own corks from home to help with the initiative,” says Wyskiel.
In recognition of its cork recycling efforts, Farmington was the winner of a 2022 Environmental Impact Award at the Club Management Association of America World Conference and Club Business Expo.
To date, Farmington has contributed about 1,500 corks to the cause, and Re-Cork C’ville has collected more than 3 million corks as of May 2022. All collected corks are sent to CorkClub, an organization that recycles corks to benefit forest and ocean conservation. CorkClub donates to select non-profit entities that clean plastic from the oceans and prevent deforestation.
Wyskiel says other properties can adopt a similar program, as well.
“It’s easy to do,” she says, “and other properties can partner with a local company to make it happen.”
The Goal: Farmington Country Club initiated a wine cork recycling program to help reduce its environmental impact.
The plan: Through a partnership in the local community, the property collects the corks onsite and delivers them
to an area business for recycling.
The payoff: Farmington supported a staff member who was passionate about the project and is doing its part to be a good environmental steward.