Sea Based Solutions

We are seeing more and more catastrophic spills of large amounts of nurdles at sea. This is because more nurdles are being shipped around the world to keep up with the demand for increasing plastic production, and ships transporting nurdles can easily loose tankers full of millions of nurdles during transportation

Coastal communities near major ports or shipping lanes are at particular risk, but once in the sea nurdles can spread far and wide.  

Groups all over the world are calling for governments, industry and the International Maritime Organization to make changes to prevent future nurdle spills at sea 

Pellet loss at sea

Nurdles are easily lost from containers on ships at sea during bad weather events, when a ship faces technical difficulties, or when a tanker becomes damaged.

Pellet disasters at sea

In 2021, Sri Lanka faced the worst nurdle spill disaster in history after the X-Press Pearl ship caught fire off the coast of Colombo. The vessel was carrying nurdles and other toxic chemicals, approximately, 84 billion nurdles are predicted to have spilled into the sea devastating Sri Lanka’s coastline and ecosystems.

During the initial stages of the spill, a 100km beach stretch was completely covered in nurdles further expanding to an impact range of 700km across the islands coast. Marine animals who had mistaken these nurdles to be fish eggs had consumed nurdles, fish containing nurdles were reported from many parts of the island. Muditha Katuwawala the Coordinator and Founder of The Pearl Protectors 

There have also been major nurdles spills from shipping vessels in Hong Kong, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands and the USA all within the past 20 years. Despite being a major source of nurdle loss, sea-based solutions to nurdle loss have received much less attention.


There is a clear need to introduce measures to stop any further nurdle loss at sea, to prevent large pollution disasters and ongoing loss of  nurdles. The following measures are those being pursued by organisations to tackle nurdle loss specifically at sea. However, it is important these solutions compliment other measures to nurdle loss on land to ensure that nurdles are handled and transported correctly throughout the whole plastics supply chain, ultimately resulting in zero nurdle loss to the environment. 


These resources have been developed by organisations around the world to address nurdle pollution. They can be referenced and used with appropriate credits and unless stated are not created or endorsed by Fidra or the Great Nurdle Hunt

Case Study – Galicia nurdle spill December 2023

Following the loss of a container holding plastic pellets from a transport ship, millions of plastic pellets began to wash up on the beaches of Galicia, Spain.

Flora and Fauna International – Stemming the tide – putting an end to plastic pellet pollution – 2022 Report only

Overview of nurdle pollution and solutions 2022

BBC News – X-press Pearl 10th June 2021 – News Article

In the summer of 2021, off the coast of Sri Lanka a cargo ship caught fire. The ship was carrying…

Fauna and Flora International – Stemming the tide – putting an end to plastic pellet pollution 2022 – Additional assets ONLY

The Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) report explores plastic pellets’ impact on the environment and biodiversity, exploring how and when…

Organisations working on sea based solutions

(Please note Fidra is not endorsing these organisations or their work we are simply helping you find people who may be working on nurdle pollution by listing them below)

FFI logo
Surfrider foundation

If you are working on this issue and want to be listed please add yourself to our directory here