UK beaches littered with plastic ‘nurdles’


  • A survey of 279 beaches around UK has revealed that almost three-fourths of the beaches are littered with tiny plastic ‘nurdles’.
  • The finding is the result of ‘The Great Winter Nurdle Hunt Survey’ involving over 600 volunteers during early February organized by Madeleine Berg of Fidra, a Scottish environmental charity.
  • The largest number of nurdles recorded was at Widemouth Bay, Cornwall, where 33 volunteers collected around 127,500 pellets on a 100-metre stretch of beach.
  • There were also some beach hunts that yielded no nurdles at all like Spurn Point in Yorkshire and Sully beach in South Wales.
  • The lentil sized nurdles or pellets are used as raw material to make plastic products. They are main sources of primary micro plastics.
  • They can cause significant harm to birds and fish which eat them accidently.
Nurdles on a beach
Courtesy: Natalie Welden, BBC

Causes and Effects:

  • The volunteers of the survey estimate that roughly 53 billion of the tiny pellets escape into the UK’s environment each year during the manufacture, transport or use of plastic products.
  • They are usually accidently spilt into oceans and rivers or fall into drains from where they get washed off to seas.
  • 230,000tonnes of nurdles are estimated to be entering the ocean in Europe annually.
  • The nurdles soak up the chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release dangerous toxins into the body of animals that accidently consume them.


  • Simple precautionary measures can help reduce the spillages and ensure that the nurdles do not end up in the environment.
  • Adoption of best and efficient practices along the full plastic supply chain is necessary for putting an end to further nurdle pollution.



News post compiled by Merrin Muhammed Ashraf


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