Plastic 'nurdles' found on 73% of UK beaches

Plastic 'nurdles' found on 73% of UK beaches

Nurdles on a beachImage copyright
Tracey Williams

Image caption

Many thousands of nurdles were found at Tregantle Cove in Newquay, Cornwall

Almost three-quarters of beaches in the UK are littered with tiny plastic “nurdles”, a survey suggests.

The lentil-sized pellets are used as a raw material to make plastic products. A search of 279 shorelines between Shetland and the Scilly Isles found 205 (73%) had industrial pellets on them.

They can cause damage to such wildlife as birds and fish, which eat them.

The survey results will be added to a government consultation on microplastics.

Experts warn nurdles can soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release toxins into the animals that eat them.

They can escape into the environment during their manufacture, transport or use. They are often spilt into rivers and oceans or fall into drains where they are washed out to sea, with billions lost in the UK each year.

The Great Winter Nurdle Hunt survey was carried out by 600 volunteers over a weekend in early February.

The beaches where Lego washes up

Image copyright
Natalie Welden

Image caption

The nurdles are small and difficult to clean up once released into the environment

The largest number recorded were found at Widemouth Bay, Cornwall, where 33 volunteers collected some 127,500 pellets found on a 100-metre stretch of beach.

They are one of the main sources of “primary microplastics” – small pieces of plastic which have come from larger items broken down into little bits – in European seas.

Madeleine Berg of Fidra, a Scottish environmental charity which organised the hunt, said she was delighted so many people took part.

“The information we’ve gathered will be vital to show the UK government that pellets are found on beaches all around the UK and, importantly, that so many people care about the issue,” she said.

“Simple precautionary measures can help spillages and ensure nurdles don’t end up in our environment.

“We are asking the UK government to ensure best practice is in place along the full plastic supply chain, and any further nurdle pollution is stopped.”

Fidra organised the nurdle hunt along with the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna and Flora International, Greenpeace, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage.

Source: BBC – UK News

Please follow and like us: