Rosie Davenport
Tesco is in talks with cork producers about setting up recycling initiatives at its stores.
The chain, which earlier this year ditched cork in favour of screwcap closures across 5% of its range, said discussions were at a preliminary stage.
"We are looking at doing something. Initial talks are taking place but it's work in progress," said a spokeswoman.
ACPOR, the association of Portuguese cork producers, is keen to get a multiple involved in a national scheme to emphasise the environmental benefits of its product.
The association's director of the international campaign for cork, Francisco de Brito Evangelista, said: "We don't want to create more infrastructure because it's not economical if you have to set up transportation systems, so supermarkets are good. People are very receptive to the idea and now it's a question of the logistics."
He said that the scheme would require seven or eight depots in the UK with a main base in Southampton where the corks could be exported back to Portugal for recycling.
"We want to emphasise the environmental side of the cork industry which is operated by a sustainable forest. Plastic stoppers and aluminium caps are not very environmentally-friendly products."
But Sainsbury's director of wine, Allan Cheesman, was less enthusiastic about the idea.
He said: "Apart from the gimmick factor I can't see how it would work because you would get plastic corks and all sorts of other stuff put in there.
"I've no idea what kind of sorting procedure you could use."
APCOR has shifted its attention to the environment after it set up a scheme and recycled 31,088 corks from the recent London International Wine and Spirit Fair and the International Wine Challenge.