Airflo not only makes the best fly lines on the planet but they are also leading the charge to reduce our impact on the environment. They have recently launched a one-of-a-kind recycling program where anglers can easily recycle old fly lines at their local fly shops. We caught up with Mayfly Outdoors CEO Jeff Wagner and Mayfly Outdoors Director of Marketing Ty Cyphers to learn more about Airflo’s Zero Waste Box™ program.
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the recycling program you have introduced. Where did the idea originate from?
Jeff Wagner: We know that plastics, especially single-use and limited-life plastics are an issue. We also know that these make the best materials for many fishing applications. Where this is true, circularity through recycling is the best way to keep these plastics out of the environment and landfills. If we do this, the plastics end up having many more lives and might even show up again for anglers.
The challenge was that no recycling program had been identified for fly lines, and no one had taken that risk and responsibility. In fact, the reason no one has done this yet is that it is not economically viable, meaning it costs more to recycle plastic fly lines and spools than to buy new raw materials. However, it is the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do given that we produce fly fishing products. We have the responsibility to protect our environment; the wild places that we venture to in order to follow our passion for fly fishing. So, to us, it doesn’t matter if it is not economically viable, it is the right thing to do. It aligns with our values as a company and as a B-Corp.
We believe fly fishing consumers and retailers will feel the same. We believe they share the same values and will support the program through recycling. We believe that they will help us close this loop and support circularity.
Ty Cyphers: As anglers, buying fly lines, leaders and tippet is part of everything you need to be successful in catching fish. As these products are used and enjoyed, they eventually reach the end of their useful life and it’s time to buy more. We asked the same questions as everyone else, do I just throw this away? It seems like it could be reused in some way. Other plastics can be recycled, why not this one?
Also as a manufacturer of fly lines, we know the plastics involved in fishing products are complex so regular recycling methods don’t quite work the same. This triggered us to begin looking for a better way for consumers to dispose of their used fly lines and plastic fishing materials like leaders and tippet.
TerraCycle emerged as a partner already focused on answering the questions we had and many other industries have, providing a solution that responsibly manages the waste stream, keeping plastic fly lines and spools out of the environment and landfills, and doing something useful with the recycled output. From there, we have been off to the races working with the TerraCycle team to put a plan into action through their Zero Waste Box program.
Flylords: Walk us through the process of how someone can participate in this program.
Jeff Wagner: First, go to your fly shop and encourage them to participate. If a shop sells Airflo products it costs them nothing and there is no reason not to participate. Then bring your local shop your used plastic fly lines and spools. That is it! The fly shop will send TerraCycle the pre-paid box at no cost to them. TerraCycle will then sort and recycle with other similar plastics. Eventually, you will see them show up again…maybe as a plastic bench near your favorite trout stream!
Ty Cyphers: Consumers can start by visiting our website and following the steps on our Airflo Recycling page to first find a participating location. Next, check the list of eligible materials to make sure what you bring in can and will be recycled. Then, bring them in to drop in the Airflo Zero Waste Box.
If your local fly shop hasn’t signed up to be part of the recycling program, encourage them to contact Airflo and get signed up. Dealer registration is easy as well!
Flylords: Why is this program important to Mayfly Outdoors and Airflo?
Jeff Wagner: The simplest answer is that it is who we are and what we do. It embodies our values. We know that we have to consume in order to pursue outdoor activities but that doesn’t mean it needs to have a negative impact. It is our responsibility to provide a pathway for end users to recycle these products, regardless of manufacturer. We believe fly fishers and anglers in general share this value. We are excited to offer this to all retailers, regardless of their affiliation with Airflo. And while we believe that our lines do have less impact on the environment than others it is no less important. Additionally, this program allows for the recycling of fluorocarbon, nylon, tippet, leaders, backing, plastic spools, and more.
Ty Cyphers: This program is important to both Mayfly Outdoors and Airflo because doing business that benefits people, communities, and the planet is part of its core as a certified B Corp.
Airflo has made fly lines out of Polyurethane rather than PVC since its beginning because poly is more environmentally friendly in a fishing environment and poly provides a number of performance benefits over PVC.
By creating a recycling program for used fly lines and other plastic fishing waste, Airflo is continuing its efforts in providing not only a product that lasts longer and is better for the planet but also an end-of-life option that encourages recycling, when there wasn’t that option before.
Flylords: Why should anglers care about recycling old fly lines?
Jeff Wagner: We should care about limiting our impact on the environment as much as possible. There is no way to have zero impact but we can work to reduce it. This step is easy and simple and has no cost to retailers and anglers. The better question is why wouldn’t they participate?!?!
Ty Cyphers: Anglers should care about recycling used plastic fly lines and spools because it is a waste stream we are directly connected to. It’s within our control to make sure the products we use and continue buying don’t hit a dead end at the end of their life. We can ensure the plastics go on to be used in other useful ways through TerraCycle’s processing channels. The parking lot, the side of the river bank, or the landfill don’t have to be the last resting place of our fishing plastics.
For the same reason we catch and release to continue the cycle of fishing, we should also use our fly lines and recycle them to continue the product life cycle and keep the areas we enjoy clean for future generations.
Flylords: What does TerraCycle do with the recycled fly line? Is it downcycled?
Ty Cyphers: No, the lines are not downcycled. That implies new products made from recycled plastic are of lesser value than the original product.
When TerraCycle receives a Zero Waste Boxes full of used plastic fly lines and spools, they sort, clean, size-reduced, melt and reformat the material into pellets, flakes, or a powder format that can be used by manufacturers to create new products. TerraCycle has a full shop on its website called TerraCycle Made which lists products made from similar recycled plastics that have been collected.
We also plan on working with TerraCycle to take the plastics we collect and have them potentially reused in new fishing products or in other capacities that benefit end-users of natural areas. There are tons of options for meaningful reuse!
Flylords: What if your local fly shop doesn’t have the “Airflo Zero Waste Boxes™”?
Jeff Wagner: Encourage them to participate! If they sell Airflo it is free and easy. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ty: If your shop doesn’t have a Zero Waste Box, please let them know about our program and ask them to get in touch with us either by giving us a call or going through our website. Our Recycling Program page has a link to information on how shops can get signed up.
Flylords: Anything else you want to add about Terracycle?
Ty: I would add just a few comments on the good work TerraCycle is doing. Their mission is Eliminating the Idea of Waste®. Until working with TerraCycle, I didn’t realize that even complex trash is technically recyclable. The issue is many materials aren’t profitable to recycle which creates the waste issues we face.
TerraCycle’s model of collaboration and innovation is a great step in finding ways to inspire recycling where options didn’t seem possible before. Fly lines and spools are great examples of challenging wastes that can now be recycled through our partnership with TerraCycle.
Flylords: Any other exciting news you can share from Airflo? Any exciting new products?
Ty: We’ve got a number of things in the works but we are really excited about our new award-winning saltwater lines in the Superflo Ridge 2.0 Flats Universal and Tactical Tapers. Both lines won Fly Fisherman’s Gear Guide Award for Best New Saltwater Lines. The 9’ Universal clear tip and 12’ Tactical clear tip allow for stealthy presentations and are combined with our Superflo and Ridge Tech features for clean and accurate casts.
We also have new tippet available in both premium nylon 50 and 100-meter spools as well as premium fluorocarbon in 30-meter spools. Both the nylon and fluorocarbon come in sizes 1X-7X with three half sizes in 4.5X, 5.5X, and 6.5X.
Each spool has a color-coded band to make finding the right size faster and easier. They clip together allowing you to customize your stack and keep them organized. The innovative band is also designed to prevent line damage as you take tippet off the spool. This is a great new addition with a ton of positive reactions in the short time it’s been available. Check out the Tippet HERE.
Thank you to Ty and Jeff for taking the time to answer the interview questions. Be sure to find more information online HERE about the recycling program. If you want your fly shop to participate in the program, give us a call at 970-249-0606 or email at email@example.com.