Is Fishing Line Recyclable? [How to Dispose]

Yes. Fishing lines made of nylon or any hydrocarbon are recyclable and should be disposed of properly. Disposing fishing lines isn’t the same as disposing of any other plastic-made product. Instead, anglers are instructed to cut down the line into 30cm (or less) parts, packed, and handed over to bait shops, recycling centers, etc. 

In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything about recyclable fishing line to make your fishing experience eco-friendly and delightful. So keep reading!

Nearly 300 million tons of plastic products are produced each year, however, only a fraction (if not less) of it is ever recycled. Mono-filament, Nylon fishing lines are plastic products and are among the most frequently used fishing lines used by anglers all over the world owing to their price, strength, and flexibility. 

While these fishing lines are recyclable, they barely ever find their way into a recycling facility. Why? Well, in all honesty, most anglers aren’t familiar with the recyclable nature of fishing lines.

In fact, it’s probably the last thing on their mind. While they aren’t guilty of purposefully harming the marine ecosystem, they’re unwittingly contributing to marine endangerment owing to a lack of information on when, how, and why they need to recycle their used fishing lines. 

Recyclable Fishing Lines

Angling equipment has transformed over the years from throwing spears in open bodies of water to a more sophisticated art form, hobby, or way of life. An example of the advancements made in angling equipment would be the numerous types of fishing lines available today. 

Fishing lines are categorized based on strength, memory, and pricing. However, they’re very rarely (if ever) categorized based on there whether they can be recycled or not. The truth is, only one form of fishing line can be recycled – the mono-filament nylon fishing line. 

This isn’t to suggest that other types of fishing lines are necessarily disastrous to the environment. Although, improper disposal would inadvertently harm the ecosystem. 

Back to mono-filament fishing lines – Monofilament fishing lines can be recycled owing to the material they’re made of. This material is commonly nylon or any other hydrocarbon. The fishing line is recycled into tiny plastic pellets to be reused into making other plastic materials. If disposed of in the trash, the fishing line will eventually find its way into a landfill where it’ll stay for 600 years before it finally even begins to disintegrate. 

If you were skeptical about recycling before or thought of it as too much of a bother, imagine the impact a thin, flexible, and the strong line could have should an animal be caught in it. It’ll stay there for 600 years – for many more animals to be endangered by it.

What’s Being Done About It?

The urgency to recycle a fishing line is rarely ever an angler’s top priority as they’re sitting aboard on their boat, enjoying a peaceful time fishing. While most anglers will eventually dispose of their fishing lines in the trash, or even in a recycling bin, there’s a proper way to go about it. 

The harmful implications of improperly discarded fishing equipment were unheard of until the BBC ran a documentary on recycling fishing nets. 

The idea and need to recycle were at its peak in 2016 (at the same time the documentary was released) which is why angling communities all across the globe were alarmed. Simultaneously, anglers began researching how they could dispose of their fishing lines properly. 

This was when they discovered that the only fishing line that could be recycled was the monofilament nylon or hydrocarbon fishing line. Additionally, the proper way to dispose of the fishing line was also established (more on this later). 

For example; in the UK, the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS) was established and to this date, they have collected and recycled over 5 million lines of fishing lines. Shockingly enough, most of the line that they recovered and subsequently recycled was found not in trash bins or recycle bins – but around birds’ beaks, in open bodies of water, in landfills, and tied around animals’ legs. 

Today, the same shops where you can buy angling equipment is also the same location where you’ll find recycling bins dedicated to disposing of fishing lines. 

How to Properly Dispose of Fishing Lines

Fishing lines made up of nylon or hydrocarbons can be disposed of properly. If you didn’t know how, here’s what you should do after an evening of fishing:

  • Remove the hook, bait, or anything attached to the fishing line. 
  • Cut it up into increments of 30cm or less. Most mono-filament fishing lines are supplied as 100m spool or reels. The average angler might purchase up to 300m or 3 reels worth of nylon. Is this bothersome? It might be, however, the implications of not disposing of fishing lines properly will settle in for many years to come. Dedicate a day if need be sole for cutting up fishing lines. 
  • Bag up the cut-up fishing lines and bring them over to bait stores, angling stores, etc where you’ll find a dedicated recycle bin for the lines. 
  • Alternatively, you could store the cut-up fishing lines in a covered bin at your own home and dispose of them off in bulk when necessary.

That’s it! That’s all it took for you to do your part in saving the environment and enjoying fishing.

What Happens Next

Now that you know what, how, and why you should recycle. The next question is: What happens to the fishing line after disposing of it? We’ve established that a fishing line will only begin to disintegrate after 600 years, then what’s the point?

Firstly, had you disposed of the fishing line in something other than a recycling bin, it would’ve found its way into a landfill or would have been burned to ‘get rid of it.’ Neither of which has any positive impact on the environment. 

After being collected, the recycled mono-filament fishing lines will make their way to recycling centers where they’ll be melted into tiny plastic pellets. These pellets will then be recycled to make more plastic products. Therefore restricting the production of plastic to what’s already been produced instead of producing more of it. 

Interestingly enough, your recycled fishing line will not be recycled into another fishing line. Instead, it might be recycled to make boards, boxes, miscellaneous, and so forth. 

Play Your Part

  • Reduce the amount of plastic that you use by using reusable materials, such as shopping bags, boxes, or any other. 
  • Use materials made up of recycled plastic, biodegradable materials, or organic products.
  • Identify a recycling strategy that is both convenient for you and as effective as possible.
  • Encourage those around you, as well as your local legislative bodies to promote better recycling habits. 


In conclusion, fishing lines can and should be recycled. The only fishing line that is recyclable thus far is the monofilament nylon fishing line. Which is also coincidentally the most frequently used fishing line. 

There are several harmful implications of improper disposal of fishing lines that last for centuries. Responsible angling therefore also encompasses recycling your equipment timely and accurately.

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