Stopping nurdle pollution requires the whole plastics industry to follow the highest possible standards of plastic pellet control. In a new set of briefings, Fidra have teamed up with partners Fauna & Flora International to set out clearly our expectations for an effective set of standards and certification schemes that can be used to stop pellets escaping to the environment. 

While we see legislation as ultimately needed to make sure all companies across the huge, complex plastics supply chain are handling pellets without unnecessary pollution, well-designed standards and certifications are a vital first step to making an effective industry-wide system to tackle pellet loss at source.

This blog explains a bit more about this stepping stone to stopping pellet pollution.

 From spotting the problem, to seeing the solution

The evidence collected by you, the sharp-eyed Nurdle Hunter, is vital to showing just how widespread nurdle pollution is, and how many people care about the damage that industrial plastic pollution can have on the marine environment. 

At Fidra we use the data gathered  to work behind the scenes with industry and decision makers to find practical solutions to this plastic pollution problem. Since the early days of The Great Nurdle Hunt we have been learning more about the plastics industry, its vast and complex supply chains, and the challenges faced by companies trying to keep pellet loss at bay. 

If pellets are handled with care, there is no reason for them to escape into the environment, but to ensure this, best practice needs to be implemented effectively at ALL sites and by EVERYONE handling plastic pellets. One step towards achieving this ambitious goal is to create an effective supply chain approach that lets companies prove that they aren’t spilling pellets and share this information with their customers and suppliers. 

A Supply Chain Approach to tackling pellet loss

A supply chain accreditation approach uses standards andcertifications to bring all companies up to the same level of responsible pellet handling:

Standards set out what companies need to do to implement good practice at their sites. They provide a checklist for companies to follow including instructions for the types of equipment, procedures for clean-up and training of staff. These are a step up from existing guidelines such as the industry's Operation Clean Sweep scheme because they are auditablemeaning an external inspection can easily check whether someone is up to standard or not. 

Certification is the process of getting an internal inspector, or auditor, to visit a company and check its equipment and processes against the checklist in the standard. If the inspection finds the company has passed, they receive a certificate that can provide assurance to other actors in the supply chain, or members of the public, that they are doing all they can to stop pellet loss. 

Over the last year, there has been significant progress toward developing both standards and a certification scheme across Europe.

Making our expectations clear

As standards are developed, we want to make sure that, where companies follow these checklists, they are strict enough to mean we can be sure pellets are not escaping from sites; that any unscrupulous companies can’t exploit loopholes to avoid action

At the same time, certification schemes must ensure, for example, that inspections take place regularly, are thorough, and that companies can lose their certificates if they are found to be losing pellets.

Importantly, we need all schemes to be transparent and accountable, with oversight from a range of stakeholders, including NGOs, government and industry representatives. This is key to developing credible solutions, allowing everyone involved to track and steer progress toward a shared goal of zero pollution.

More is needed to fully stop pellet loss: good communication across supply chains and, most likely, legislation to make sure all companies must become certified. But creating a good foundation with the standards and certification schemes as they are written is a vital first step to making an effective industry-wide system to tackle pellet loss at source. 

Read more: Download our new documents below

These documents are written for policy-makers, industry representatives or others interested in the nitty gritty of supply chain accreditation! 

Requirements for a pellet handling standard

Requirements for a pellet handling certification scheme