The Overstrand municipality is appealing to residents in the area to help clean up as many nurdles as possible, as millions of the tiny plastic pellets have washed up on Onrus beach recently.

“Overs the last few days, people have reported nurdle sightings on the Onrus beach. Millions of these plastic pellets are being found in the sea and on the beaches, causing serious problems within the marine ecosystem,” the municipality wrote in a statement on Tuesday, December 22. “Residents are being asked to find time to collect as many nurdles as possible‚ particularly from the high-water mark.

They can be handed in at the Law Enforcement Safety kiosk, situated in the parking area. Please do not discard in Municipal waste bins, as these pellets will end up in landfills where they will become a problem to the scavenger animals that look for food.”

Nurdles are small, lentil-shaped pellets that are made of polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and others. These pellets are used to manufacture the majority of the plastic products that we use on a daily basis, from plastic bottles to oil pipelines. As they come in a variety of densities, the pellets may sink or float, depending on whether they are found in freshwater or saltwater.

Like other plastics, nurdles can easily be mistaken for food by marine wildlife like seabirds, fish and crustaceans. They thus post a threat to these animals and their habitats.

These nurdle pellets may also indirectly affect the ecosystem, as microplastics can change the characteristics of sand, such as its temperature and permeability, which can affect animals like sea turtles that incubate their eggs on beaches.

When taking a walk on the beach, please keep your eyes peeled for nurdles. They are tiny – around 2-5mm, which make it difficult to spot them. It is also quite difficult to pick them up and therefore it helps to take a sieve and container or packet with you.

Picture: Facebook / Overstrand municipality

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