The Great Global Nurdle Hunt

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Nurdles collected on the River Ythan, Scotland – Lauren S @SaltWaterLifeUK / The Great Nurdle Hunt

The #GreatGlobalNurdleHunt report released on 1st July highlights shocking global nurdle pollution.

Over 1000 volunteers across all 7 continent, find millions of plastic pellets washing up on beaches worldwide revealling global extent of industrial plastic pellet (or nurdle) pollution.

Results from the Great Global Nurdle Hunt released this month reveal beaches across the globe are polluted with nurdles, the plastic pellets used to make nearly all plastic products. Volunteers in all 7 seven continents visited beaches, rivers and ports, to look for this microplastic pollution. Nearly 9 out of 10 hunts found nurdles, with 23% of hunts finding more than 1000 nurdles and millions estimated in many of the worst spots surveyed.


During ‘The Great Global Nurdle Hunt’, (held in March 2020) more than 1000 people in 28 countries, scoured beaches for these tiny microplastic pellets.

Organised by Fidra, this worldwide plastic pollution survey illustrates the ongoing, widespread pollution of our marine environments as a result of direct losses from the plastics industry.

Nurdles are lentil-sized plastic pellets, used as a raw material by manufacturers around the world to make new plastic products. Leaks can occur at all stages of the plastics supply chain, making them one of the largest sources of direct microplastic pollution to the environment. The Great Global Nurdle Hunt highlights this widespread pollution that takes place before plastic has even become a product.

Nurdle Hunt

Jasper Hamlet, Senior Project Officer at Fidra who organises and runs The Great Nurdle Hunt said:

 ‘It is estimated that every year 230,000 tonnes of nurdles are lost to the environment from across the plastics industry, that’s 10 trillion pellets, or the equivalent of around 15 billion plastic bottles’

‘The results of The Great Global Nurdle Hunt show that more and more people are finding these nurdles washing up on their shores, regardless of how remote they might be. From Hong Kong to Hawaii, nurdles were found alarmingly frequently and often in huge numbers.

During one nurdle hunt in Hong Kong, 25 volunteers joined Plastic Free Seas, an organisation supporting the event, and collected 11,557 nurdles in just under 2 hours.

Dana Winograd, Director at Plastic Free Seas said:

‘There was a pellet spill in 2012 in which 150 tonnes of pellets fell off of a ship into the ocean near Hong Kong during a typhoon. It is estimated that 102 tonnes were collected, and I am sure we are still picking up the lost pellets to this day. 

The Great Global Nurdle Hunt has also showcased the dedicated and focussed work of over 65 organisations, business and groups which work towards highlighting the ongoing and pervasive industrial plastic pellet (or nurdle) pollution.

Jasper Hamlet, Fidra said: ‘We are delighted to see so many individuals, groups and organisations take to their beaches to search for these tiny plastic pellets. It clearly shows that people across the world care about this issue and are demanding that more is done stop plastic pellet pollution it.


Fidra and other NGOs internationally are pushing for increased transparency and accountability across the plastics industry, with external checks on best practices where pellets are handled. Certification schemes can be used internationally to verify pellets are being contained and should reach across the whole plastics supply chain.

Fidra is supporting work to develop such systems, from trialling solutions with the Scottish government and industry close to home, to raising awareness with EU decision-makers and global trade associations.

Remember, you can take part in this ongoing citizen science survey anywhere, anytime. Add your voice and data to Fidra’s pellet pollution map. Submit your finds here and Read the report here.

This press release was originally published as The #GreatGlobalNurdleHunt report released today highlighting shocking global nurdle pollution at Fidra.

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