Beach’s microplastics research

Taller Kids for the Future medioambiental

What are plastic pellets?

Pellets or nurdles as they are often called, are pre production plastic resin pellets.  Essentially raw plastic before it has been made into an end use item such as a plastic bag, bottle or toy.

How they arrive to our beaches?

Plastic pellets are transported from the manufacturing plant to factories via trucks, trains and cargo containers on ships and spills can occur during manufacture as well as throughout transportation.  As pellets are extremely lightweight and float in water they can easily end up in drains, rivers and the sea.  Manufacturing plants and transportation companies have a responsibility to ensure safety of their product and they should implement best practices throughout their chain to minimise risk.

How can they be cleaned off the beach?

It is extremely difficult and time consuming to remove pellets from beaches once they are there.  Usually they are sporadic throughout the sand and it is a case of picking them out individually.  When there are greater concentrations of them (for example after a big spill) there are various methods that can be implemented including industrial vacuum cleaners.
Pellets can be removed with the use of sieves and manually sifting the sand or through sand separation and flotation (sand sinks & pellets float).