Coastlines across Northern Spain in the region of Galicia, have been hit with an influx of plastic pellet bags that have washed up on shorelines, after a Maersk cargo ship passing through the Fisterra corridor lost six of its containers.
#BreakFreeFromPlastic members and environmental organisations throughout the region have been closely monitoring the situation after the spill was first reported in mid-December 2023, and volunteers have been working tirelessly to sift through sand on the beaches to remove the tiny plastic particles.
These pellets, also referred to as nurdles, are about the size of a lentil and are melted down to make almost all plastic products. Billions are used each year, but throughout the plastic production chain, thousands of tonnes spill into the environment. Their small size makes them nearly impossible to clean up and as they can be easily mistaken for food, these nurdles often get trapped in animals’ stomachs. The pellets contain harmful additives, such as UV light stabilizers. These toxins can leach into animals and the surrounding environment, embedding themselves into entire food chains thereby causing long-term damage to the environment as well as impacting the health of wildlife and humans.
#BreakFreeFromPlastic member, Surfrider, have published an open letter with support from members across the movement and beyond. With the upcoming revision of EU legislation on preventing pellet loss, the EU must take this opportunity to adopt ambitious EU legislation that priortises prevention of future pellet spills and sets accountability standards for all pellet handlers.
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Support #BreakFreeFromPlastic members as they try to tackle the pellet spill