Ladson, SC – Beyond an obsession for battling big fish, there’s one thing upon which anglers almost universally agree: Clean, healthy waterways and flourishing fish habitat lie at the heart of everything we hold sacred.
Count the people at Z-Man Fishing among America’s 60 million anglers—everyday folks you might meet at the tackle shop or along the shoreline. At some point each day, we’ll stop casting, survey our surroundings and simply marvel at the beauty both above the surface and below; we’ll pause to ponder what this awe-inspiring place might look like, 5, 10 or 100 years from now. It’s at times like these that anglers grasp their power to write the future—the same reason Z-Man has for years been working creatively, quietly, to help sustain healthy, vibrant fisheries behind the scenes.
It began early in the company’s 30-year history. From the beginning, Z-Man understood the value of supporting causes that ensure long-term sustainability of fisheries and aquatic environments. These motivations are evident in Z-Man’s product line itself, as its 10X Tough ElaZtech® soft plastic material exhibits advantages that lessen its environmental impact relative to other soft baits.
Not only does ElaZtech’s boosted durability reduce the number of soft plastic baits used by anglers, ingested by fish or discarded in the water, Z-Man’s specialized material is also one-hundred percent non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals like phthalates. Additionally, ElaZtech floats and is FDA Food Grade compliant—as opposed to traditional plastisol baits, which sink to the bottom and can be ingested by fish and other wildlife, sometimes causing digestive problems among other issues. Conversely, any inadvertently discarded ElaZtech baits will float and can be easily scooped from the water’s surface for proper disposal.
ElaZtech baits are 100-percent non-toxic and naturally buoyant, allowing for easy retrieval and disposal.
Sustaining the Aquatic Ecosystem
Part of Z-Man’s mission has always been to further causes that preserve healthy ecosystems and enhance fishing opportunities. Today, Z-Man’s support of such initiatives ranges from backing action-oriented groups like Captains for Clean Water and Release Over 20 to empowering future fisheries management via Z-Man endowed graduate research assistantships at the University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key.
When seeking out opportunities to conserve cherished fisheries by minimizing its impact on nature, Z-Man management identified essential actions toward meaningfully reducing its carbon footprint. “Two aspects of our manufacturing process that we’ve always felt could be improved upon include minimizing the power we pull from the electrical grid and finding a way to recycle manufacturing waste from our ElaZtech production line,” remarks Z-Man President Daniel Nussbaum, a longtime conservationist and forward-thinking fishing industry executive. “Most any company can purchase enough carbon offsets to claim that it’s carbon neutral, but our goal was to find ways to actually reduce the impact of our production-related activities.” As a result of its initiatives, Z-Man recently achieved exciting benchmarks in an ongoing quest to give back to aquatic environments.
Sun-Powered Bait Making
Last year, phase one of the Z-Man sustainability program included installing a broad solar-panel array with the goal of self-generating a perpetual power supply. By nature, solar is a low emission power source; solar panels themselves produce zero pollution. Conventional energy sources, by contrast, typically involve the burning of fossil fuels, which emit up to 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the global atmosphere, annually.1
Nussbaum summarizes the early returns: “Following just one year of solar power generation, we’re nearly one-hundred percent self-sufficient,” he says. “In fact, rather than paying big energy bills during the summer, we’re actually selling electricity back to the power company. It’s a pretty exciting development that’s exceeded our initial hopes and started us well down a path toward minimizing our carbon footprint.”
ElaZtech Softbait Recyling
?Specific to the on-site manufacture of its environmentally benign ElaZtech softbaits, Z-Man recently achieved a second sustainability milestone. For the last few years, Z-Man staff has been searching for ways to prevent its manufacturing waste from entering landfills. Despite challenges in recycling this unique material—largely due to the pigments, glitter and salt used in fishing lure production—Z-Man ultimately devised a successful plan.
“Even though ElaZtech is completely non-toxic, we still felt it was critical to keep our leftover manufacturing material out of landfills,” asserts Nussbaum, who helped formulate a two-part solution. “First, we worked hard to devise a way to efficiently reprocess around sixty percent of our scrap ElaZtech material to manufacture new baits. We also re-use the excess material to flush out and clean our machines.
“Second, and maybe the most exciting aspect of our plan is working with a third-party re-processor of manufacturing waste that is able to repurpose the material,” Nussbaum continues. “After years of searching, we finally found a company that is able to use our ElaZtech waste as an ingredient in new shoe soles. Besides the environmental benefits of keeping these materials out of landfills, recycling has yielded a major cost savings over traditional waste disposal methods.”
At least part of the allure of fishing is that all participants can create positive, edifying outcomes while on the water—from catch and release to collecting trash along the shoreline and properly disposing of used fishing line and lures. Easy solutions are already at our fingertips, individually or organization wide. Every effort helps, always with the promise of sustaining natural places where water flows and wild fish reside.