Pellet Picking

bin sieve small2Pick up a pellet or two... 


To take part in our nurdle hunt, you don't need to pick up any pellets at all, just let us know if you spot them. However, we know that most of you want to get rid of as many of the little nurdles as possible before you leave the beach. We've heard news of all sorts of methods to remove microplastics from sand, gravel and other beach debris. In this post I thought I'd share some of these with you. Please remember that we recommend you use gloves to handle pellets, and always thoroughly wash your hands afterwards!





Sieves of all shapes and sizes can be particularly useful on a sandy beach:  

(1) Artist Vanessa Balci uses a sieve to collect different colours for her amazing nurdle mosaics. 

(2) On highly polluted beaches, nurdle hunter Rob Arnold recommends a mesh bin for industrial-scale sieving. 

(3) Across the pond, one man has patented a method using a combination of sieving and static forces to separate plastic out even more efficiently... Find out more.

(1)0 nurdle 2 MADELEINE PC(2)bin sieve small(3)microplastic recovery



Many (though not all) nurdles will float in water, so a quick way to separate them from sand can be to simply stick them into a tub / bucket / even bathtub if there are enough of them.

(1) Pellets and other microplastic fragments collected by a nurdle hunter in Cornwall.

(2) Floating nurdles (plus a sinking yellow airgun pellet) from our Clyde Nurdle Quest training on Cumbrae.

(3) Rob Arnold, of  Rame Peninsula Beach Care has been working on a new sifting machine combining flotation and sieving to filter out microplastics, which is being tested out this winter - Check out this video on their facebook page to see the amazing machine in action!



(3)rob arnold sorting machine


The archimedes screw/ density separation: 

We have heard suggestions that the archimedes screw principle could be used to separate out material based on density. This technique has been used to separate ore material in the past. Could this be used to remove pellets from sand and other beach material? We haven't seen any photos yet, but would be keen to hear if anyone uses this technique. This is something that I hope to try out in the new year!

(image from wikimedia commons)


Vaccuum Cleaners?!:

After a storm led to 6 container-loads of pellets falling from a ship off the coast of Hong Kong in 2012, the beaches were so full of pellets it looked like snow. Huge numbers of citizen volunteers joined the clean-up effort. Methods to separate out pellets ranged from simple sieves and colanders, to a specially designed cylindrical rotating drum, and even vaccum cleaners. Some great pictures of the clean-up efforts were taken by Gary Stokes Photography, and can be found here.


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