Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are used to make almost all our plastic products.
Plastic products are made and used globally. To make that possible, billions of plastic pellets are transported around the world. At each stage of transportation these nurdles can be spilt or blown away (as they are very small and light weight). If not cleaned up properly, they enter our rivers, streams and other waterways eventually landing in our oceans.
The trucks that carry the nurdles also have to be cleaned after use. During this process, any nurdles that are left behind will be washed straight down the drain also eventually ending up in the sea.
Globally it is estimated around 230,000 tonnes of nurdles enter and pollute our ocean each year. In the UK alone, it is estimated 53 billion end up in our marine environment each year.
The biggest impact nurdles have are on marine wildlife. They are most often mistake for food by seabirds, fish and cetaceans as they resemble fish eggs or small animals. Once ingested, remain in the animals stomach for the duration of the their lifetime. If an individual consumes too many nurdles they start to think they are full which stops them from eating leading to starvation.
Once eaten nurdles can also transfer toxic chemicals which enters the food chain easily causing further harm.
Nurdles can also indirectly affect the marine environment. In large quantities nurdles can change the characteristics of sand including its permeability and temperature. This then affects marine species that live in sand or ones that come ashore to lay eggs.
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