So what is a nurdle, you might ask? The vast majority of plastic originates in the form of pre-production plastic pellets that are the building blocks for the plastic industry. Nurdles are generally 3-5 mm in diameter, around the size of a lentil, and weigh ~20mg each.
Pretty much anything you can think of that’s made of plastic started as a nurdle. For example, around 600 nurdles are used to make a small disposable water bottle. Last year, nearly 124 billion pounds of plastic resin were produced by companies in North America, according to the American Chemistry Council.
The nurdle is also a major source of plastic pollution we rarely hear about. It’s estimated that up to 53 billion nurdles are released annually in the UK from the plastic industry. That’s the same amount of nurdles that it would take to make 88MM plastic bottles.
The Nurdle Problem:
Releasing the pellets into waterways is generally illegal under under federal and state water permits and spillage of nurdles is not tracked by federal regulators. Because the are not considered a hazardous material the clean up of nurdles is not a priority so citizens have taken up the cause by educating others in an attempt to raise awareness and clean up the problem.
“Once you know what they look like, you see them everywhere,” James Cato, a community organizer with Mountain Watershed Association told the WSJ.
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