AMHERST, N.S. – They say necessity is the mother of invention. That’s not always true. Sometimes invention comes from pure luck.
“I owned a fishing and tackle shop in Calgary and was making some lures,” said Norm Price, owner of Hooked on Recycling. “I threw a bent bottle cap onto the desk and it landed beside a bunch of hooks. I later went back to my desk and saw the hook and cap there together, and I thought I’d combine the two and make a bottle cap fishing lure.”
Price took the lure out fishing and it worked wonders.
“The cool thing about these is they’re the only hard-shell lure on the market. You can actually open it up, put the bait inside, squeeze it closed, and it holds it in place,” said Price. “It also has three steel bearings inside that makes them rattle and create vibration in the water when you give them a little flick.”
Price has taken his bottle cap lures on the road across Canada, and they are now sold in more than 83 Canadian Tire stores, about 30 Home Hardware stores, and more than 600 other stores across the country.
Price’s home base is Regina, Sask., and he recently passed through Amherst with Suzanna Dedi during his Canada-wide tour to promote his fishing lures.
“The most popular are the Budweiser and Coors lures but she’s caught more fish using our pink coloured lure,” said Price.
Dedi, who is from Athens, Greece, says she loves fishing and has caught hundreds of fish during their tour.
“I don’t recognize myself anymore,” she said.
“She’s turned from a city girl, into a country bumpkin wanting to get out there and be a fish-slayer all the time,” added Price.
The lures can be customized for companies, sports teams and charitable organizations.
“We customized a Lure-for-a-Cure for the Canadian Cancer Society,” said Price.
He has landed custom-lure contracts with major companies, including with Boston Pizza, Canadian Tire and Co-op.
“We bought a machine out of the states that custom prints caps, so we’re able to print 120 at a time,” said Price. “We do it in Regina and then they’re hand assembled after they’re printed.”
Besides promoting fishing lures, Price is also visiting bars, pubs and restaurants across Canada asking them to send their discarded bottle caps to Regina.
“We’re set up so that any businesses who mails us their bottle caps will be given a charitable receipt for the cost of the postage.”
Hooked on Recycling is actually two companies, one that makes fishing lures, and one that recycles bottle caps.
“Since hooked on recycling is a non-profit, charitable organization we buy any bottle caps we need to use from hooked on recycling for five cents each. It kind of offsets the cost of the recycling program.”
Price estimates that he’s received about 250,000 bottle caps but hopes that number will go way up by the time he gets back to Regina.
About two per cent of the bottle caps they receive are turned into lures and the rest are smelted by a company in Regina and turned into new products.
With billions being dumped in landfills sites across Canada, Price says their mission is to create environmental awareness about the dangers of bottle caps.
“A lot of seagulls are gorging themselves on food that is mixed in with these bottle caps,” said Price. “They’re consuming them and starving to death because they’re not able to pass the bottle cap through their system.”
He also removes all plastic liners from the caps.
“We take an environmental approach. The cap has no liner in them, so they don’t contribute plastics into the environment like most bottle caps do.”
Price recently promoted his product on the Dragon’s Den.
“Two months ago, we went to Toronto for filming,” said Price. "They start airing new shows this September.”
Asked how he did in the Dragon’s Den, Price says they were sworn to secrecy until episode airs.
Hooked on Recycling has also launched a contest to get people to try his product.
It is a $100,000, Canada-wide fishing contest with the grand prize going to whoever catches the biggest fish using a bottle cap lure, and a $50,000 consolation prize going to whoever catches the most fish using the lure.
“Also, any custom lures we do for any business or organization they qualify for the $100,000 contest as a new brand,” said Price.