It was September 2017 where the word Nurdle first entered my vocabulary. I was doing some internet research on cotton bud marine pollution and found Scotland’s environmental charity organisation FIDRA website. They run the ‘The Cotton Bud Project’ tackling sewage-related cotton bud marine pollution and had a sister campaign called ‘The Great Nurdle Hunt’. Little did I know at the time that I would ever see a nurdle and how many times I would be writing and vocalising that word in the following 18 months.
It didn’t take long at all for me to find my first nurdles. Was it one day or a couple of days after I’d read about them on that site that I was at the beach collecting them?
It felt odd that a problem plastic I read about happening on the other side of the world, that seemed so foreign, could be here on my local beach. My beach, ‘Shelly Beach’, is quite a distance away from any city, industry or stormwater outlet.
And, weirdly enough, the third campaign on the FIDRA website was around microplastics. Why is that weird? Because the beach that I was cleaning in my volunteer time, had all three problem plastics at concentrated levels; cotton buds, nurdles and microplastics.
Oh, wait, you still have no idea what I’m talking about do you? “Nurdle?” you ask, “What’s a nurdle?”
I made this video with Tangaroa Blue Founder Heidi Taylor to explain. It was nurdles that brought Heidi to Warrnambool town. And, not just a few nurdles; but a ‘Class 2 State Emergency’ Nurdle spill.
So, it was September 22nd, 2017 that I collected my first nurdles and wrote a Facebook post about them and then, just two months later, we had a large spill of nurdles – possibly millions- into the ocean via our local waste water treatment plant. And then, the word ‘nurdle’ was known to many (well, in our town anyway).
There is plenty to this ‘nurdle’ story and I’ve supplied a load of links below for you to peruse. And, I mean loads! Maybe our locally polluted nurdles were always destined for notoriety… it was only one week before the fated ‘Nurdle spill’ that a photo I took of nurdles on Shelly Beach made the UK’s Huffington Post.
If you would like to become a Nurdle Hunter and help rid the sea of nurdles then please join my Facebook page Good Will Nurdle Hunting.
Here is a very short glossary of terms to familiarise yourself with:
Nurdle: Nurdles are pre-production resin pellets. They are the raw material used to make nearly all our plastic products.
Nurdling (Verb): The act of collecting nurdles.
Nurdle Hunt: To look for and collect nurdles.
Nurdle Hunter: A name for a person who collects nurdles.
- ‘Ending the Age of Plastic’ by Michael Lucy, 18 September, 2018. Feature article in COSMOS Science Magazine. This article appeared in Cosmos 80 – Spring 2018 under the headline “Plastic planet”
- ‘How a wave of nurdles woke up the people of Warrnambool’ by Jewel Topsfield. 29th September, 2018. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
- ‘Nurdle hunters clean Australian beaches’ by Kate Tilley in ‘Plastic News’ (International Plastics Industry magazine) October 8, 2018
- ‘Thousands of microplastic nurdles inundate Warrnambool coastline’ by Bridget Judd. ABC South West Victoria. 30 Nov, 2017
- ‘The Fight Against The Tiny Plastic Pellets Choking Our Oceans’ by Tess Riley, HuffPost US Huffington Post 2017
- ‘How can you dump piles of deadly plastic without detection?’ Posted on April 23, 2018 By Carol Altmann Posted in The Terrier
- ‘Beach Warrior wins Warrnibald’ by Rebecca riddle. The Standard Newspaper. August 3, 2018.
- ‘Care spills beyond beach: How the nurdle crisis sparked community action’ by Sian Johnson. The Standard Newspaper. Feb 23, 2018.
- ‘Hundreds of cotton buds appear on Victorian coast’ by Emily Bissland, ABC South West Victoria, 4 Sep 2017
- ‘Hunt for white plastic litter source at Warrnambool’s Shelly Beach’ by Sian Johnson. The Standard Newspaper, SEPTEMBER 18 2017