Skip to main content

Recycling monofilament fishing line

When monofilament fishing line is disposed of improperly, it can cause serious problems for wildlife, people, boat propellers and the environment. Local groups can set up stations to collect fishing line for recycling.

Fishing line causes problems when left in the water or put in the trash

Loon tangled in fishing line.
Loon tangled in fishing line. Photo courtesy of Marge Gibson.

Monofilament fishing line is the line anglers most commonly use: single-strand, high-density nylon. If left in the water or onshore, it can harm wildlife that becomes tangled in it or ingest it. Line in the water can also endanger swimmers and divers and become tangled in boat propellers. It can last up to 600 years in freshwater, meaning it poses a threat for a long time.

Fishing line can remain a problem even if put in the trash because birds can take it from an open bin and become entangled or it can entangle wildlife at landfills.

The good news is that, if collected, the line can be melted down into plastic pellets, which are then recycled into products such as tackle boxes, spools for fishing line, toys and fish habitat structures.

Start your own collection program

Outdoor fishing line collection bin
Outdoor fishing line collection bin.

Interested in building your own bin at your favorite fishing spot? Building your own monofilament recycling bin is easy!  The Berkley Conservation Institute [exit DNR] accepts fishing line for recycling at no charge. Outdoor bins are relatively simple and inexpensive to construct using PVC pipe. Below you will find the details on materials needed to construct and label the bin.  Note: Permission is required from the property manager before placing the bin on any public property.

Materials needed for outdoor bin construction

The estimated cost to construct a simple outdoor collection bin is approximately $12. Here are the materials you will need.

  • Two feet of 6-inch PVC pipe
  • One 6-inch PVC elbow
  • One 6-inch PVC female threaded adapter
  • One 6-inch PVC threaded male plug
  • Adhesive
  • Stickers to label the bin
  • Materials to secure the bin to a kiosk or post near boat landing

Glue the elbow to one end of the pipe and the adapter to the other. Drill two holes in the plug (this is for drainage in case water gets into the recycling container) and attach (hand tight). Secure the bin to a kiosk or post near a boat landing, then attach stickers and signage.

Recycle fishing line at DNR Service Centers

Some DNR Service Centers operate collection stations for monofilament fishing line. Check with your local DNR Service Center to see whether it is currently participating.