March 2016

Study to Quantify Pellet Emissions in the UK

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Posted in | by Dr Chris Sherrington, George Cole

This study, commissioned by the environmental charity Fidra, explores a number of issues relating to plastic pellet emissions from facilities in the UK.

The pellets, sometimes known as nurdles, are lentil-sized particles of plastic that are used as feedstock for the manufacture of plastic products. Fidra and other organisations have found these small plastic pellets on beaches, in estuaries, and floating in waterbodies, suggesting that they are finding their way into the marine environment.

The study involved a review of the international literature on pellet loss and engagement with key stakeholders from the plastics industry, regulators and academics in the UK, Europe and beyond. The authors also considered the relative strength of the financial incentives acting upon firms to both prevent, and clean up, pellet spills.

It reveals that up to 53 billion pellets could be lost to the wider environment in the UK each year, the equivalent of 35 full tanker-loads of pellets spilled. It also makes a number of recommendations as to how the problem of pellet emissions can best be tackled.

The study adds to Eunomia’s track record in terrestrial and marine litter-related research and policy development for a range of clients across public, private and third sectors.

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