A goal to reduce marine plastic pollution

By Julia Wray
Oct 14, 2022

Last year, a container ship disaster near Sri Lanka brought the nurdles to public attention and now the UN is getting involved; but what exactly are nurdles and what role does the beauty industry play?

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<p><i style=Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are melted down to make almost any plastic product.

In May 2021, the word “nurdles,” familiar to anyone who works in or around plastics, but lesser known to the general population, went public.

A container ship, the X-Press Pearl, catches fire and sinks in the Indian Ocean. But while the craft may have been lost to the waves, its cargo was not. About 1,680 tonnes of nurdles entered the ocean, and billions of tiny plastic pellets washed up on Sri Lanka’s shores in what was the worst maritime disaster in the country’s history.

The X-Press Pearl is also not the first nurdle spill at sea. In February 2020, the Trans Carrier freighter lost over 13 tons of nurdle, which ended up littering the coasts of Denmark, Sweden and from Norway. Today, the United Nations (UN) International Maritime Organization (IMO) is getting involved, asking pollution experts to consider options for reducing the environmental risks associated with the shipping of nurdles.

According to the IMO, a group of experts will submit their findings for a meeting in April next year. And the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), when contacted by cosmetics companyconfirmed that one of his areas of interest as part of the broader work to reduce marine plastic pollution is in pre-production plastic pellets, namely nurdles.

But why are nurdles so widely used and what steps are being taken to address the issue of their entering the environment?

The nature of nurdles

“Nurdles are little plastic pellets. They are made by the plastics industry and melted down to make almost all plastic products,” says Heather McFarlane, senior project manager at Fidra, an environmental charity that works to reduce plastic waste and chemical pollution.

“Nurdles are lost along the plastic supply chain from where they are produced, during transport and when they are used to make products. Billions are lost each year; they can be swept away in the sewage or be discharged directly into the environment and washed out to sea.

“They make the microplastics problem worse. They look a lot like fish eggs and can be mistaken for food by fish and turtles, and have been found in seabirds.

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