MSP calls for action on nurdle pollution

The plastic pellets, better known as nurdles, found by Gillian Martin MSP on Newburgh Beach
The plastic pellets, better known as nurdles, found by Gillian Martin MSP on Newburgh Beach

A campaign has been launched to call for action on small plastic pellets which are washing up on shores across Scotland every day.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin took part in a litter clean-up with dozens of other volunteers at Newburgh Beach recently.

Gillian Martin MSP at Newburgh Beach

Gillian Martin MSP at Newburgh Beach

But she was shocked to collect around 300 pellets – called nurdles – in just 30 minutes of collecting waste along the sand.

Billions of nurdles are used every year to make many of Scotland’s plastic products.

They are used in the manufacturing industry and are melted down to items including phone covers and toy dolls.

There is currently no regulation in the UK which dictates how nurdles should be managed, which means spills are not treated as such and can go unnoticed and unmanaged.

They contain a number of pollutants and are often mistaken by marine life as prey and end up in the food chain.

Last year, between 50 and 100 were found at Montrose Bay in an estimated 20 minutes, while up to 1,000 were found in 2015 at St Cyrus Beach in just two hours.

Research from Strathclyde University estimates that on Limekilns Beach more than one million pellets have washed up in recent years.

Commenting, Gillian Martin said: “I was shocked that in a half hour period we managed to find around 300 pellets in an area no more than three metres in length.

“These tiny bits of plastic go unnoticed and once they are in the sea they don’t go away.

“They can become part of the food chain as they’re often mistaken for prey by marine life and they wash up across Scotland’s shores.

“They can take pollution from the surface water as they act like sponges making them even more toxic.

“I am calling for action on addressing nurdle pollution.”