Whether you recycle your fishing line, or purchase biodegradable line, proper disposal benefits the angler, the environment and boaters.
Discarded fishing lines can harm the environment and get tangled up around marine animals and birds, which can cause injuries, impaired movement, and, in some cases, fatalities. It can also be problematic for boaters and beachgoers if not correctly handled. If the line is not biodegradable, it can remain in the environment for many years, and as responsible anglers, we want to avoid anything that causes harm to our industry.
Recycling your fishing line is an important step in environmental conservation. Some fishing lines can be recycled, melted down and turned into plastic pellets that can be remanufactured into fishing items, like spools and other uses.
Whether fishing line is recyclable depends on the material. Most lines are made from synthetic materials and not all are readily recyclable. The only recyclable and, therefore, the most eco-friendly fishing line is a single filament nylon product like monofilament, or fluorocarbon – even if it’s a colored fishing line.
A monofilament fishing line is a single-strand line typically made of nylon. Some monofilament lines are recyclable and programs and collection bins are specifically set aside for recycling them. Recycling facilities may use the collected monofilament to create new products, but we will get to that later.
Fluorocarbon fishing lines are made from a type of plastic called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). While fluorocarbon is not as commonly recycled as monofilament, some programs may accept it. It helps to check with specific recycling facilities or manufacturers to determine their acceptance of fluorocarbon lines.
In a landfill, these lines won’t break down over time, so they can pose problems for birds and animals tied up in them. That’s why it’s great that they can be recycled. Other lines, like braided or fused types, can’t be recycled. Braided fishing lines are often made of high-strength synthetic materials like Spectra or Dyneema. Options for braided lines may be limited, as the materials used in these lines can be challenging to recycle. However, some manufacturers or recycling programs may accept braided lines.
TUF-LINE Clear Biodegradable Monofilament Leader Spool 25-Yard Fishing Line is an acceptable choice for anglers and is easy to get your hands on. TUF-LINE is made from a plant-based, 100% biodegradable polymer, which retains 100% of its strength for a year after spooling your reel. When stored in its original, unopened package, TUF-LINE Biodegradable has a shelf life of over five years. If your line is lost, TUF-LINE Bio is designed to return to a harmless biomass within approximately seven years, with no known adverse environmental effects. TUF-LINE can be purchased at your local Walmart, most bait and tackle shops or Amazon.com.
Many fishing locations, marinas and tackle shops have designated collection bins for used fishing lines. Anglers can deposit their used line in these bins, and the collected line is then sent for recycling.
Another option is mailing in fishing line. Some organizations and companies provide mail-in programs for recycling. Anglers can collect their used line and send it to the designated address, and the organization will ensure proper recycling.
This might be stating the obvious, but fishing line can be reused for other purposes if the line is still in good condition. However, if the line is damaged or no longer suitable for fishing, it’s best to recycle it rather than dispose of it improperly. But you also can use it alternatively for crafting, kite lines, hanging decorations, and even gardening. In gardening, fishing lines can create support for plants or trellises. It’s strong enough to provide stability while remaining nearly invisible, allowing the plants to take the spotlight.
If you want to practice eco-friendly fishing but don’t have a recyclable line, you’ll want to make sure your unwanted line is adequately taken care of to prevent any harm to others or the environment. For example, cut it into smaller pieces, less than a foot, and place it in a covered bin so animals can’t get to it. Take the bin home and dispose of it when convenient.
California State Parks and the California Coastal Commission’s Boating Clean and Green program, Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Marine Debris Program and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation have placed recycling containers at various locations throughout the state. In all, there are 492 fishing line recycling stations across the state. Through this recycling program, 3,274 pounds of fishing line have been collected and properly recycled. Stretched out, this line would stretch from San Francisco to Bahia Negra, Paraguay.
Also, check the list of line recycling container locations or the map on the Division of Boating and Waterway’s website at https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=29426.