What is a Nurdle?

A nurdle is a very small pellet of plastic which serves as raw material in the manufacture of plastic products.

The Problem:

In the raw stage (pre-moulded and packaged) new nurdles are not toxic to touch. Once released into the marine environment they will, over time, attract harmful substances from land-based pesticides,herbicides and other organic pollutants that end up in the ocean. They never go away, but they break down into tiny pieces that then get eaten by even more animals and form part of people's food.

Marine Impact:

Nurdles are harmful to animals which mistake them for food items. Not only are they toxic, but they cannot be digested, causing digestive blockages, starvation and death.

What Can WE Do?

Anyone can start a Nurdle cleanup! Please go down to your local beach and try pick up as many as you can, follow the tips below. 

How to Collect Nurdles:

Method 1: 

  1. Scrape nurdles together on dry sand.
  2. Place on sieve/shadecloth and shake to remove sand. 
  3. Place mix in bucket of water and swirl. Nurdles will float to surface.
  4. Scoop nurdles from surface.

Method 2:

  1. Scrape nurdles together on sand and place on shadecloth.
  2. Close shadecloth and carry sand to water's edge.
  3. Allow waves to wash sand from shadecloth.
  4. Remove nurdles from shadecloth.

Equipment that Works Best:

  • 1m green 40% shadecloth or 1m black 60% shadecloth or pool net (3mm - 5mm mesh).
  • 10L or 20L bucket with water.
  • Colander or sieve.
  • 2 to 3 people. 

Safety Tips:

As with any beach cleanup, the following precautions are suggested:

Wear sunblock and a hat, watch out for sharp objects and beware of tides - don't be caught off guard. 

Recommended Disposal:

Nurdles should be placed in a sealed bag and taken to a Drop Off point. See Drop Off points here

Nurdles should not end up in landfills, so should not be disposed of in general waste. Very few recyclers can process nurdles collected from the beach. 

For More Reading:

Nurdles wash up on Cape Town beaches

The Great Nurdle Disaster: What to do if you find nurdles

Watch this video