10 Questions with July’s #LocalHero, Etienne Loney!

Today we’d like to highlight Etienne Loney from Clear Your Gear, A local group from Manitoba that has started a nationwide recycling program for the proper disposal of used fishing lines. 

Etienne is part of the team that makes the bins you see across Canada. Once the line is disposed of in one of Clear Your Gears handy bins, the fishing line is taken back and recycled into materials for other fishing products, saving birds from accidentally consuming the line and creating a circular economy for fishing waste! Clear Your Gear has bins that can be found across Canada in various stores, at fishing sites, and more!

Questions:

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your program!
My name is Etienne Loney and I am one of the volunteers at Clear Your Gear. Originally from Winnipeg, I am currently enrolled in engineering at the UBC Okanagan campus. Clear Your Gear is Canada’s volunteer fishing line recycling network. Since 2016 Clear Your Gear has been actively reducing the impacts of poorly discarded fishing line on wildlife, people & the environment. Deploying critical fishing line recycling infrastructure nationwide for FREE to community groups & retailers, paid for by sponsors. We also provide access to complimentary postage-paid shipper boxes to send the collected line to the Berkley recycling centre. Clear Your Gear also educates the public on the impacts of poorly discarded fishing line & makes recycling fishing line easy & convenient.

2) What motivated you to get involved with recycling and start this program?
Our family friend Judy Robertson brought the concept back to Canada after visiting a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Florida where fishing line was impacting pelicans and other avian species. We started building some prototypes and deployed them with our founding partners at Wildlife Haven in Manitoba to reduce the entanglement of pelicans and other wildlife.

3) Can you tell us why reducing fishing line waste is so important?
Fishing line can have devastating impacts on wildlife, the environment, and people if not managed properly. Sending it to the landfill only moves the problem. It’s important to recycle this material to reduce these impacts.

4) What actions do you take to ensure the fishing line is properly recycled?
It is very labour intensive. We educate approximately 1500 volunteer hosts and retailers on the proper way to prepare the line prior to sending it for recycling. Separating any metal leaders/hooks from the line. We also visited the sorting facility in the US to learn more about the recycling process. 10,811 lbs of fishing line was collected by Berkley’s recycling depot in 2019 with 62% of the line being recycled into pellets and sold to primarily the automotive sector. The balance was converted to electricity through a waste heat recovery process.

5) What challenges or obstacles do you face while running the program nationwide?
We have no staff! Our core team of volunteers is very small with 5 builders in Winnipeg and 4 in Edmonton. We are either full-time students or have full-time jobs. Our goal is to build & deploy another 300 units this year and every year after until we are everywhere we need to be!

6) How do you keep yourself motivated?
Knowing that this is being embraced and supported by everyone we share it with keeps me going because we have many more people to reach.

7) Who inspires you in terms of activism and making a difference in the recycling space?
I really like the work of the Bureo. They are on a mission to reduce fishing net pollution and have developed a recycled material called NetPlus which is used by clothing companies like Patagonia and YETI.

8) What has been your favourite experience so far?
Seeing our 750+ recycling receptacles across Canada is very rewarding. We had a chance to tour BC last year and visit with some of our sponsors and partners. Seeing their excitement for the program meant a lot to me.

9) What was something that surprised you while trying to maintain your goals for Clear Your Gear?
We weren’t sure how far this would go, but this has really grown into a great community nationwide and we feel like we are just getting started.

10) Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to start a recycling program in their neighbourhood?
Start small and dream big. It takes a community to make a difference. If you need a free fishing line recycling receptacle for your community reach out to us at ClearYourGear.ca

Know anyone that you think could be our next #LocalHero? Let us know below!

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