Nurdles & toxic plastic pollution not getting enough attention

December 2, 2021

Nurdles and toxic plastic pollution are still not getting enough attention

Plastic pellets, also known as nurdles, are having a substantial negative impact on the environment. Yet, not many people know about them. The worst part, they are not classified as hazardous.

Ship fire in Sri Lanka sparks conversation about nurdles

In May 2021, a ship that was carrying tons of nurdles caught fire in western Sri Lanka. The incident led to what the United Nations called the “worst maritime disaster” in the country’s history. A UN report also said that it was the largest plastic spill ever.

While the MV X-Press Pearl was also carrying dangerous chemicals like nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, and methanol, the UN concluded that the leak of nurdles was the more damaging element of the incident.

Observers say the beaches of the South Asian country were covered in so-called plastic snow. Experts believe at least 1,680 tons of nurdles spilled into the ocean.

This corresponds to about 75 billion pellets, and most of them were burnt due to the fire. Sri Lanka’s coastline has been changed.

The tiny granules are expected to affect coastlines in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Somalia. It is not easy to evaluate the damage linked to the crisis.

Nurdles are pollutants

Nurdles are still hard to define for many people despite grabbing headlines in recent months.

They are the raw materials used to produce plastics.

Interestingly, recycled plastics turn into nurdles. This is a cycle that can repeat itself.

Fish and seabirds often treat nurdles as food. After the ship fire, the granules were found in the mouths of fish, in dead dolphins, turtles, and whales.

The plastic pellets are the ocean’s second-largest source of micropollutants.

They are highly persistent pollutants that have some similarities with crude oil. They can last decades in the ocean.

Moreover, some have described them as “toxic sponges” because they attract other pollutants.

The Sri Lanka ship fire has brought the issue of plastic waste to the forefront of the battle for a better environment.

Nurdles are hazardous but not classified as such

Every year, 8.8 million tons of plastic waste goes into the maritime ecosystem. Researchers claim that number will reach 53 million tons in the next decade.

Activists see this as a significant issue that needs to be addressed rapidly. Governments and businesses involved in the maritime industry are encouraged to come to the table to find concrete solutions to combat the pollution linked to plastic waste.

Environmentalists want to use what happened in Sri Lanka as a warning to avoid a similar incident from happening elsewhere. The consequences were dire for the area and hurt the economy.

Over 20,000 families had to stop their fishing activities. Tourism was also affected.

Specifically, activists think it is time to classify nurdles as hazardous for their adverse effects on the environment. Such a move would submit them to more rigorous shipping conditions.

Some have suggested that their packaging needs to be put below the deck with clear labeling. The International Maritime Organization plans to cover some of these issues next year.

However, many doubt that concrete actions will be taken to make a real difference. Activists say people in power do not care enough about the problem at this moment.

Get REAL, UNBIASED coverage of the latest political news and more US news and World news.

Follow us on Social Media for more latest news all around the world!