Stopping pellet loss

Once at sea, or washed up on a beach, pellets are almost impossible to clean up. Therefore, we believe that the most effective solution is to tackle this problem at source, working with industry to stop the loss of pellets into the environment.

Nurdles don’t need to become marine litter at all. In fact, there are simple measures that can prevent them escaping into the environment. By using the data gathered by The Great Nurdle Hunt, we’ve shown industry and decision makers that there is a problem and that people care about it. We’re now working with companies to find practical solutions to this issue.


So what does this mean? Companies making, transporting and using pellets need to handle pellets with care. Simple steps to prevent spillage and leakage must be in place at all sites and facilities where nurdles are handled. These include preventing spills through improving procedures, providing spill kits and training staff on how to use them, and putting filters in drains.

The solution spans policy, research and the practical steps industry can take to limit loss of nurdles in Scotland, the UK and beyond. This is where our work focuses.

Photo credit: Suparna M

Using Nurdle Hunt Data

By raising awareness of this issue, and showing that people care, politicians start to listen.

Since 2014 we have been asking people across the world to take part in The Great Nurdle Hunt so we can call for change. This has enabled us to build up an growing picture of nurdle pollution. We first started receiving submissions from around the Firth of Forth, in Scotland, but now people have mapped nurdles along coastlines worldwide, from New Zealand to Norway.

By collecting this data, sharing pictures and building evidence of this problem we have been able to start conversations with industry and government, and work towards finding a solution.

We use the map as a way to evidence the issue, providing clear visual data to help show the impact polluting industry are having.

The more people we have taking part in The Great Nurdle Hunt the greater the pressure becomes for decision makers and industry to do something. By taking part you can add your voice to this cause.

Telling the story

We use your images and nurdle hunt information to build stories. These can be used in the press, bringing this issue to light in wider society. Industry representatives are starting to take notice and there is momentum building to bring about better control of nurdle pollution (see below), but we need to keep building demand for concrete action to prevent the loss of nurdles.

The evidence you provide to The Great Nurdle Hunt, showing pellet pollution around the world, is holding industry to account and piling on the pressure for them to take effective action. So remember, next time you are nurdle hunting, take photos and upload to our webiste along with your data.


Photo credit: Rob Arnold

Prevention at source

Our work to stop pellet loss at source is not only about raising awareness of the problem. We have worked actively with industry across the UK to promote best practice and develop case studies showcasing industry leadership. We have commissioned research into quantifying pellet loss and investigating the best options for solving this complex supply chain issue.

We are currently working with decision makers, industry associations and partner NGOs to call for a new Supply Chain Approach to pellet loss, to make sure pellet handling companies across the full plastics supply chain have standardised, externally verified best practice in place.

We believe through effective collaborative working, addressing this problem source, we can make the most impact.

What else is Fidra doing?

We have been working with industry, trade associations, NGOs and decision makers at regional, national and international levels to work towards a pellet supply chain free of pellet pollution.

Stakeholder engagement

We are members of a cross-stakeholder steering group organised by The Scottish Government to develop active trials of a supply chain approach to pellet loss.

Technical experts

We are participating as technical experts in international stakeholder workshops about pellet pollution, organised by the OSPAR convention, who represent countries of the North Sea area.


We have taken part in workshops as part of European Commission investigations into the pellet pollution problem and solutions. The European Plastics Strategy, published in 2017, includes a specific commitment to ‘tackle pellet loss from industrial sources’.

Engaging with investors

Fidra helped launch Stewart Investor’s UNPRI collaborative shareholder engagement on pellet loss, providing technical support and advice. 45 asset owners, running over $2 trillion assets under management are collaborating to ask leading companies handling, using and transporting pellets to introduce mandatory auditing and reporting around pellet loss.