Mapping the Global Plastic Pellet Supply Chain

Plastic Pellet Supply Chain Scale and Distribution 

The report is authored by Oracle Environmental Experts maps the plastic pellet (or nurdle) supply chain, identifies known pellet pollution sites and provides updated estimates of  the amount of plastic pellets lost to the environment globally.

Widespread risk

The report highlights the impacts of nurdle pollution on communities, protected areas, fisheries, tourism, livelihoods and wildlife, revealing risks to remote regions as well as those close to major plastic industry sites. The report also uses primary plastic imports and exports 2021 data from the World Bank alongside Eunomia’s previous estimates on pellet loss to provide up to date figures, concluding that as many as 445,970 tonnes of plastic pellets could be entering the environment annually, this figure is likely to increase parallel to the rise in production of plastic if preventative measures are not enforced.

Pellet Pollution Data and Case Studies

Plastic pellets leak out of every stage of the plastic pellet supply chain. The report maps the various stages from production, use, transport and the conversion of recycled plastic back into pellets, all of which are known to lose plastic pellets to the environment. Case studies of a major ship spill off the cost of Hong Kong and evidence of ongoing pollution from plastic industry sites in the UK show how impacts on communities and the environment can be devastating. At the time of publication a total of 41 major pellet pollution sites were found, but this is thought to be an underestimate due to a lack of industry transparency and reporting.

Forecasting and Solutions to Pellet Pollution

With no international laws or agreements in place for plastic pellets the report warns plastic pellet pollution is set to worsen as plastic production and recycling increases. However, the report also highlights this pollution is preventable and risks can be reduced if action is taken by industry and governments. Solutions include a robust Global Plastic Treaty, safer stowage, packaging and labelling during transport and a legislated supply chain approach to ensure pellet loss prevention as well as agreed protocols and compensation in the event of further disasters such as those occurring off Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Norway and South Africa.

Resource Packs

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