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Recycling monofilament fishing line

If left out in the environment, monofilament fishing line can tangle or be ingested by wildlife, endanger swimmers or become wrapped around boat propellers. It can last up to 600 years in freshwater, meaning it poses a threat for a long time. Removing discarded fishing line from the environment is a great first step. Recycling gives it new life.

How to recycle old fishing line

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. Recyclers that specialize in fishing line melt it down into plastic pellets, which are then recycled into products such as tackle boxes, spools for fishing line, toys and fish habitat structures.

Look for collection bins specifically designed for fishing line at boat launches or similar locations. Line may also be mailed directly to:

Berkley Recycling
1900 18th Street
Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360

Never put fishing line in regular recycling bins as it can cause major issues at recycling facilities designed to handle cans, bottles, paper and cardboard.

Disposing of fishing line in the trash

Consider placing old fishing line in a bag or another container before putting it in a garbage bin or dumpster, especially if it is outside. Loose line can easily blow into the environment or get tangled around equipment when trash is transported and placed in a landfill. Scavenging animals at a boat launch or landfill can easily become tangled.

Start Your Own Collection Program

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

PVC pipe receptacle for recycling fishing line
Outdoor fishing line collection bin.

Here are the materials you will need to construct a simple outdoor collection bin:

  • 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.