Nearly three quarters of UK beaches littered with plastics

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 February 2017 in News

73 per cent of beaches surveyed contained tiny plastic beads known as nurdles

Beach - by Garann

Almost three quarters of UK beaches are littered with tiny plastic pellets, according to a survey conducted by an alliance of environmental groups.

The data, gathered in a survey of 279 beaches across the UK, shows that 205 beaches, or 73 per cent of those surveyed, contained tiny plastic beads known as nurdles, which are used in the manufacture of plastic products. The pellets attract and concentrate background pollutants and get eaten by marine animals and sea birds.

Campaigners estimate that around 53 billion nurdles escape into the UK's environment each year after being spilled or discarded by industry, with 230,000 tonnes estimated to be entering the ocean in Europe annually.


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Madeleine Berg, Projects Officer at environmental charity Fidra said: “Simple precautionary measures can help spillages and ensure nurdles don't end up in our environment.”

"We are asking the UK government to ensure best practice is in place along the full plastic supply chain, and any further nurdle pollution is stopped."

Results from the hunt will be fed into the government’s consultation on microplastics.

In 2010, surveys conducted by the Marine Conservation Society collected over 53,000 items of litter from a 22km sample of Scottish beaches.

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