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Does Trader Joe’s Recycle Corks? (Answered)

does trader joes recycle corks

When it comes to sustainable products, Trader Joe’s is the top grocery store chain in the United States. They make sure that as much of their product is recyclable, and they minimize food waste. So, this begs the question; does Trader Joe’s recycle corks?

No. Trader Joe’s does not recycle corks. While they can recycle cans and glass bottles for you, they will not be able to handle your corks. Although, there is no need for them to do that. Trader Joe’s corks are sustainable products. They can be recycled in other ways.

Let’s tell you more about the recycling program, shall we? 

Trader Joe’s: An Introduction

Over the last few years, one of the core focuses of Trader Joe’s has been product sustainability. The company has put in a huge amount of effort to ensure that their stores are loaded only with products that are not only sustainable to produce (they choose their suppliers well), but incredibly easy to recycle too.

No other grocery store goes to the same amount of effort that Trader Joe’s does. It is evident that this is an active commitment for Trader Joe’s.

Even now, they maintain a regular log (on their website), of the efforts that they go to in order to make sure that the products that they have on offer in their stores are produced in sustainable manners.

Regular visitors to Trader Joe’s will notice that their products have their product packaging changed regularly.

All new Trader Joe’s stores, where possible, are constructed with sustainable materials, low-energy appliances, and non-polluting refrigerators. 

Recycling at Trader Joe’s

Because Trader Joe’s is a smaller store, it doesn’t have the greatest selection of recycling areas. Their recycling programs will differ depending on where you live (check websites that give recycling locations in your state). In most cases, Trader Joe’s will offer recycling in:

  • Glass bottles
  • Cans
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Most types of plastic

There will often be a drop-off box to put the items in. If the area where you live has a buy-back system for cans or bottles, then you will need to talk to a customer service representative. 

Cork Recycling: An Overview

Corks can come in multiple materials. For the most part, Trader Joe’s uses wooden corks, but other companies may use plastic corks. They are recycled in slightly different ways.

Wooden corks are the easiest to recycle as most of them are biodegradable. However, while they cannot be repurposed into making new corks (because of bacteria), they will often be used to make floorboards, noticeboards, etc.

Basically, anything that involves cork. The more corks that are recycled, the fewer trees need to be cut down. This is brilliant for the environment!

Plastic corks are not biodegradable. You put these in the trash, and they’ll be sitting in a hole for centuries.

As they break down, they will release pollutants into the environment. Burning them does the same. This is why it is essential that plastic corks are recycled.

When plastic corks are recycled, they are cleaned, melted down, and refashioned into recycled plastic products.

Does Trader Joe’s Recycle Corks?

Trader Joe’s does not recycle wooden corks, but they will recycle plastic corks in some of their stores. Although, not all of them.

If you wish to find out about the recycling options at your local Trader Joe’s store, we suggest that you give the customer service team a call. They will let you know whether you can bring your plastic corks in there.

With wooden corks, you’ll likely need to find your own place to recycle. Most local recycling locations will allow you to recycle those.

Understanding the Cork Recycling Process at Trader Joe’s

While your store may not accept wooden corks, they may accept plastic corks. If you do take in any recycling (remember, you can take more plastic than just your corks), you should take it in a bag. It makes it easier to process.

Unless you are recycling cans or glass bottles, there will likely be a drop-off point. Just put your plastic in there and you are ready to go.

If there isn’t a drop-off point, then look for the customer service desk and somebody may be able to help you. Once again, not all Trader Joe’s stores accept all types of recycling. This is due to their small size.

Alternative Cork Recycling Options

If your Trader Joe’s doesn’t have recycling, there are other options available. For example, if you have wooden corks, they can be used in your compost heap. They break down quickly. 

If you have a local recycling center (there are various websites online to check this), then they may be able to accept wooden corks. All recycling centers will accept plastic corks.

Trader Joe’s Sustainability Efforts

Trader Joe’s is very sustainability-conscious. One of the core focuses of their business is to ensure that a minimum of waste is produced.

If you walk into their stores, you will see this. They only use LED lighting, any wood is cedar (which is sustainably produced).

Their product packaging will almost always be made from easy-to-recycle resources or something that disintegrates quickly when thrown in the garbage. 

The company is making massive strides, and they probably boast the most sustainable program out of all the major grocery store chains since this matches up with the core philosophy for Trader Joe’s.

This is why, when you walk into one of their stores, you can recycle your cans and bottles.

Consumer Experiences and Feedback

Outside of customers wishing that there were more recycling opportunities at Trader Joe’s, there doesn’t seem to be any complaints.

Every comment that we found seemed to believe that the process was incredibly easy and they enjoyed the fact that Trader Joe’s accepted their recycling.

Final Thoughts

Trader Joe’s is a company committed to sustainability. This is why they offer recycling options in some of their stores.

You won’t be able to recycle your wooden corks at Trader Joe’s, but you can recycle plastic corks. To find out whether your local Trader Joe’s store accepts wooden corks, give them a call. 


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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