Pellet Alert is a community, volunteer based monitoring programme which aims to investigate the occurrence, distribution and behaviour of plastic resin pellets in the coastal and inshore marine environment and draw attention to the harmful consequences to marine and shore life posed by them. We hope to add other forms of very small plastic pollution and micro plastic pollution into the monitoring programme over time.
Plastic resin pellets also known as pre production plastic or nurdles are the raw material which is heated and chemically treated to mould plastic goods. Huge volumes of plastic resin pellets are produced and shipped around the world each year. An alarming number of these pellets are constantly being lost to the marine environment both from direct cargo loss at sea and from spillage around factories and transport routes on land. A large proportion of these land spillages eventually find their way into drainage systems and out to sea. At sea pellets are circulated throughout the world’s oceans.
The Pellet Alert Project has been launched! The need for this project has been highlighted by this years Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up which has discovered an increasing amount of plastic pellets or nurdles in the Marine Debris that was collected.
For some more information on Pellets have a look at the Internation Pellet Watch website which has global monitoring of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) using Beached Plastic Resin Pellets.
What are Plastic Resin Pellets?
- Plastic resin pellets are the raw material form for the fabrication of plastic articles.
- They are also known as pre production plastic and as nurdles.
- Plastic resin also comes in a powdered form.
- Pellets range from barrel shaped to disc shaped and measure 2 to 5mm.
- They are usually opaque but accumulate a yellow to brown stain over time in the ocean.
- Plastic resin pellets are not easily seen and need to be actively looked for.
- They are found in every ocean and on the coasts of every continent.
Plastic resin pellets are not readily observed or found. First they are very small and look very much like similar sized natural debris on the beach such as shell, pumice grains, sargassum floats and large grains of quartz. They are opaque and blend into the sandy background. Pellets can also appear seasonally, showing up for example on the West coast of West Australia after the first cold fronts in winter and slowly disappearing in late spring as the beach conditions change. Equally they are not an every day object and to observe them you need to tune in to their appearance.
Season’s for Marine Debris