Monofilament Recycling Program

Reel in and Recycle logo
Michigan Sea Grant is a local sponsor of BoatU.S. Foundation’s “Reel In and Recycle!” campaign to recycle monofilament. The program was designed to make proper disposal of monofilament more accessible, by creating a network of monofilament recycling collectors.

Michigan Sea Grant distributed 90 monofilament recycling bins and related educational materials to marinas, camps and boating access sites across the state. For a list of participants, see: Program Participants

Monofilament Recycling Bins

Monofilament recycling bins are receptacles for unwanted fishing line. They are typically constructed of PVC and are best located at popular fishing areas. If you would like to see your favorite fishing spot equipped with one of these bins, you can ask your local land manager to install and maintain a bin.

The BoatU.S. Foundation supplied the initial inventory of bins but is now taking a break from bin production.  Moving forward, we encourage those interested in the program to build their own bins. See this video for instructions: How to Build a Bin.

How Marinas are Helping:

  • Participants mount a monofilament recycling bin and informational sign at popular fishing areas.
  • Users deposit tangled, unwanted monofilament (i.e. fishing line) in the bin.
  • Staff or a volunteer periodically empty the bin and ship the monofilament to the program’s recycling facility. This person logs in to a tracking database to track how much monofilament they have recovered.

What is Marine Debris?

Marine debris is considered any manufactured or processed solid material that makes its way into the aquatic or Great Lakes environment. Marine debris enters the environment through various means like being disposed of or abandoned directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally. Monofilament is just one type of marine debris, but recycling it can make a difference.

Why Recycle Monofilament?

Because it is strong, thin, durable and nearly invisible, monofilament is widely used by anglers. But those same qualities can make it extremely hazardous to wildlife when left behind.

Inappropriately discarded monofilament often accumulates in popular fishing areas and may tangle around boat propellers and aquatic life, while taking over 500 years to decompose. This poses threats to fishermen, the fish they catch and important fish habitat and breeding grounds. Abandoned line can “ghost fish” by continuing to catch aquatic species (e.g., fish, turtles and birds) in makeshift nets for many years.

Fact: It is estimated that ingestion of, and entanglement in, marine debris causes the Bird tangled in monofilamentdeaths of more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.

If properly disposed, such harm can be adverted. However, recycling monofilament is just part of the solution. Prevention – changing the behavior that causes marine debris to enter the environment – is the most effective way to manage the marine debris pollution issue in the long run.

Source: NOAA. Reeling in Marine Debris: A Reference Guide to Recycling Monofilament Fishing Line

What Happens to the Monofilament?

The Berkley Conservation Institute, a branch of the popular monofilament fishing line manufacturer, provides the recycling service and has recycled more than 9 million miles of fishing line since 1990. The recovered monofilament (along with other postconsumer materials) is recycled into artificial underwater habitat structures called Berkley FishHab™.

Once in the water, the FishHab™ attracts fish and plant growth that rejuvenate reservoirs, ponds and streams devoid of the natural cover essential to the growth and development of a healthy fish population.

Can’t find a bin?
Anglers can mail used monofilament line directly to Berkley’s collection center at the following address: Berkley Recycling, 1900 18th Street, Spirit Lake, IA 51360.

Program Sponsors

The program was initiated by the BoatU.S. Foundation with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Other sponsors include:

installing monofilament recycling sign
monofilament tangled examples