As Extended Producer Responsibility schemes (part of the SUP Directive) loom, the fishing tackle industry must prepare to meet the criteria and constraints these will bring. In line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the EPR will make tackle producers responsible for the entire life cycle of plastic products they offer.

It’s likely that this will come into force in late 2024 and although the principle of the scheme is the responsibility of each country’s government to implement, there are many themes that will be mirrored throughout Europe. Along with the responsibilities about the types and uses of plastics used, EPR also means that producers must cover costs related to waste management, litter clean-up and awareness-raising measures.

 How much would this cost an individual company to implement across all the countries it supplies fishing tackle to?

The European Fishing Tackle and Trade Association (EFTTA) has highlighted the need to be prepared for EPR and openly admits the scheme will have one of the biggest impacts on the industry for many years. In a recent article (available on the EFTTA website), the association has recommended three actions for all producers of fishing tackle to take to prepare for EPR and minimise its potential costs:

Furthermore, EFFTA highlighted that all packaging placed on the EU market needs to be designed for recyclability by 2030. Having looked at the Swedish guidance, they’ve set a minimum target for producers to be facilitating the recycling of at least 20 per cent of all the plastics released annually into the fishing tackle market there at their cost. Any producer reading this can see that this will take a significant effort and have significant cost implications.

Finding a recycling route to meet EPR responsibilities for UK tackle manufacturers

First of all, there needs to be an obvious way for anglers to be able to recycle their fishing plastics; without angler engagement, it’s unlikely that manufacturers will be able to meet the targets set by legislation.

The industry needs to encourage behavioural change in its customers so that the recycling of plastics becomes the norm and promote the route they wish to use to recover the plastics. This is achievable when you consider that 20 years ago, all our domestic waste ended up in one bin, but now most of us have two, three or even four bins at home for recycling various materials.

However, domestic recycling routes aren’t the solution, because businesses need an auditable route to record the volumes of plastics being recovered and demonstrate they’re meeting their EPR responsibilities. The obvious route, therefore, is a scheme whereby the plastics can be collected at angling-related locations, processed, recorded, then sent for recycling.

This is possibly where the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS) can be a recognised route for the tackle industry because it has a well-established route of engagement with anglers and retailers and a proven UK-based recycling partner that can cope with the various materials that will be collected.

The scheme would need to be expanded to cope with the volumes and new materials and be run on a basis beyond that of a volunteer-led group. This expansion will need the support of all manufacturers to enable it to operate effectively – and recognition that the collection, processing, transport and actual recycling have an inherent cost that the trade must bear.

The tackle retailers must also be encouraged to be part of the EPR journey and are the obvious locations where customers can return plastics. Space, collection bins and return costs must be considered and covered where possible, because this has proved to be a barrier to returns for the ANLRS to date.

So how could this work?


As with any new item or process, the success of the scheme would require its promotion at point of sale and at end of life of the angling products. The manufacturers would need to promote the route to recycling, explain the benefits and encourage everyone to become involved. Social media could be used to publicise the scheme – but the packaging design should also include recycling information so that everybody is aware of the route.

Anglers could be engaged further with incentives or some form of loyalty programme that could be company-generated, retailer-based or via the recycling scheme itself.

Collection and returns.

Retail outlets and potentially fisheries would be key to enabling the return of the plastics for recycling. This would require funding for standard recycling bins and signage. With engagement, incentives and support from manufacturers, most outlets would sign up – and a funded returns route would mean that there was no cost to the retailers. (One possibility is a free returns-type app-based system whereby participating outlets and fisheries could generate a label once they’d established the volume and weight of the parcel, so on return to the recycler it could be recorded, and success rates established).

Our UK-based recycler, ReFactory, already offers a recycling returns box scheme for household or retail plastics from other industries, so it would be easy to create a box that could take fishing line in one section and other fishing plastics (such as spools and packaging) in another. 

Manufacturers could be involved in the collection of these boxes. This model has worked well with line returns, where Gardner Tackle sales reps collect from their retail customers whilst visiting them. Once enough material is gathered, the reps have either delivered the material to the scheme or we have collected it from their headquarters.

Costs of recycling

Whilst some materials have a value to a recycler, many are of low value. This is why it costs money to recycle them. With time, increases in volume will reduce these costs but they must be factored into the funding when any business calculates the cost of meeting EPR.


Engagement, promotion and funding of the scheme would enable the manufacturer to display an accreditation on displays, packaging and media platforms. The volumes of plastics recycled would be distributed to those involved in the scheme, although the level of allocation will need to be established through further discussions.

Who pays?

As consumers, we all pay to dispose of packaging, along with old or broken items. We pay either at the point of sale (as with large electrical goods, where suppliers collect and recycle for a fee) or when we dispose of items at a council-funded tip. Even our domestic waste’s disposal has a cost – but it’s part of our council tax. So, the concept of paying for disposal is not new; it’s just not often a visible charge on smaller items.

Within angling, many products are either made of plastic or packaged in it. Because many products are relatively small, the volume of transactions is very high. With such high volumes, even a very low add-on could generate sensible funding levels to enable the recovery and recycling route to be promoted and financially supported.

When a price is being established for a product, there are many costs considered (such as R&D, raw materials, manufacturing costs, packaging, distribution and of course profit) as part of the calculation. Surely it would be easy to include a recycling cost at this stage.

By adding this charge at cost, a manufacturer’s margin and the retailers’ mark-up would remain unaffected. For example, a charge of 1p per pack of hooks or swivels and 2p on a spool of line is likely to generate, across all manufacturers, a level of funding sufficient to enable the recovery of the required amounts of plastic to meet EPR mandates. Some manufacturers might have reservations about disclosing product volumes sold but an alternative could be to make a set donation to the scheme per kg of plastic sold. This would need to be discussed and agreed between all parties so that funding the scheme was made as easy and transparent as possible for everyone.

In a survey the ANLRS carried out with the Angling Trust, over 67 per cent of the 1,500 anglers who responded agreed that they would be more than prepared to pay a little extra for tackle if they knew that the money was going into recycling angling plastics. Indeed, many indicated they would be encouraged to buy from manufacturers that were actively engaged in the promotion of plastics recycling within the sector. ANLRS has little doubt that any such recycling charges wouldn’t impact upon sales in any form.

As the scheme would be run on a non-profit basis, any surplus funds would be donated to angling-related charities that promote angling, junior participation or the recycling of plastics that could have an impact on the aquatic environment.

So there it is in a nutshell. We can see there is the scope for an industry-supported scheme that will enable the recovery and recycling of plastics sold to anglers benefiting the environment and allowing the industry to meet legislation that will affect it greatly in the coming years.

The ANLRS is more than happy to discuss this further with any individual business or via the ATA so a whole-industry approach can be developed that suits all involved. So over to you, the manufacturers, to help develop this further.

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