How to Discard Used Fishing Line

After putting fresh fishing line on your reels, don't throw the old fishing line in the garbage. Take a moment to do the proper steps to avoid harming wildlife or creating other problems.

How to Discard Used Fishing Line

Don't throw away your old fishing line like this. Take a few moments to cut it up into small pieces and put it in a sealed bag. Or send it to Berkley, which recycles old line safely. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Putting fresh line on fishing reels is a necessary task to help ensure better experiences and success, but anglers often wonder about how to discard old line properly.

Some don't care and take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach. Don't be those people. Even if you throw the wad of line into your garbage receptacle, if all that trash is dumped into a landfill it still can create problems. Monofilament or fluorocarbon line doesn't bio-degrade quickly. So for years there may be a gob of tangled line in the landfill. Scavenging birds or other animals can become tangled. Not cool, man.

Other folks may burn their line in a burn pile or barrel, which personally I don't have an issue with but it's probably not the optimal thing to do. Like with any petroleum-based product, the burned line can release chemicals into the air. Minimal problem? Maybe, at first blush, but it's one of those "if everyone did it, it would be bad" things that we can avoid.

A few years ago in our neighborhood a blue heron allowed me to walk almost up to it before it slowly moved away. It was tangled in line around a leg and wing. While debilitated, I knew it still could do damage with its sharp beak. As an outdoors wildlife enthusiast, as well as longtime hunter and angler, it bugged me to no end. I know that heron suffered. We can avoid that.

One thing I've done for years is cut the mess of old line into small pieces with scissors. By small, I mean into lengths of just a few inches. It only takes a moment to do this. I also do this with the plastic thing on 6-packs of beverages. Seeing a turtle, bird, fish or other animal with a plastic ring around its body isn't cool. Nor is it to see them tangled in fishing line.

After cutting it into those short lengths I'll put it in a resealable bag and compress the air before sealing. Then I put it in our trash container. It may still be in the landfill in 30 years but, hopefully, it won't be something a bird or animal can get to easily and get tangled.

Recycling is Better

Monofilament and fluorocarbon line can be recycled, but you can't just toss it into the city recycling bin with your milk jugs, magazines and soda cans. Braided line can't be recycled like mono or fluoro, unfortunately. I don't put on fresh braid too often but when I switch, the old line gets reversed on the reel for a second life. That takes a little more time but is easy to do. When I'm finished with the braid, I cut it into tiny bits and bag it.

Probably the best thing to do is to recycle your old monofilament and fluorocarbon, either at a Berkley recycling bin in your local store or by mail. Berkley, which is part of Pure Fishing, recycles mono and fluro lines at its facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Sending your line there is easy and probably the best thing to do.

Or, you can bag it all and mail it to them here:

Pure Fishing America
Berkley Recycling  
1900 18th Street
Spirit Lake, IA 51360-1041

Don't casually toss your old line. Cut it up into bits or recycle it.


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