#ChasingPellets documentary reveals huge pellet pollution in the Mediterranean

Rethink Plastic alliance member Surfrider Europe, and Good Karma Projects present their #ChasingPellets documentary, narrating their expedition in the Mediterranean in the search for pollution of the ocean caused by plastic nurdles, also known as pellets. The findings clearly reveals massive pellet pollution in the Mediterranean, highlighting an urgent need for regulations to be introduced.

The pellet pollution reaches the Balearic Islands, affecting areas of special importance such as areas of high biodiversity and ecosystems of great ecological value in the Balearic Islands.

The documentary has been shared with the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, requesting support to demand European legislation to limit pellet pollution.

Plastic pellets, also known as nurdles or mermaid tears, are small spheres (typically less than 5 mm) that are used as raw material in the manufacture of plastic articles. Due to a lack of regulation in the value chain and bad practices, pellets are “lost” in the different stages of the plastic production and distribution chain (production, transport, recycling…) At European level, pellets are the second primary source of microplastic pollution.

This pollution can be the result of one-off incidents such as recently off the coast of Sri Lanka, or of chronic, recurrent and continuous pollution, as is the case in Tarragona, where it is estimated that in 2019 there were up to 120 million pellets on the beach of La Pineda near the Tarragona petrochemical complex.

This year, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Good Karma Projects conducted a 10-day scientific expedition between Tarragona and the Balearic Islands, confirming that pellet pollution in the Mediterranean is widespread and alarming, and that solutions need to be found. The documentary was published on 10 September on Surfrider Spain’s YouTube platform.

As the documentary shows, during the expedition, pellet densities of up to 6250 pellets per m2 were found on the Cavalleria beach (Menorca, Biosphere Reserve). It is important to highlight the impact of this plastic pollution on fauna and flora, as well as on human health.

The European Commission is currently studying the possibility of adopting legislation to regulate the activities of the entire plastic pellet supply chain. This is why Surfrider Spain and Good Karma Projects have written a letter to Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, asking the European Commission for a binding regulatory framework to reduce pellet pollution.

Further info:

Surfrider Foundation Europe is an NGO founded in 1990 in Biarritz, dedicated to the protection of the oceans. It works mainly in 3 thematic areas (marine litter, coastal development or climate change and water quality) through 4 axes (education, science, volunteering and political advocacy). The state delegation (Surfrider Spain) works to transfer the social mission of the organisation to the state level.

Good Karma Projects is a non-profit organisation focused on developing educational and environmental awareness projects to promote respect and care for the environment.

The organisation was founded in 2017, in Tarragona, by two young engineers passionate about surfing and nature, with the aim of creating a community in continuous growth that can become the benchmark for the formation of small nuclei of environmental awareness and action..

Rethink Plastic