Tackling the problem of plastic pellets

Plastic has proved its importance during the coronavirus crisis, but it remains important to tackle plastic pollution. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is now taking major step to address pellet pollution, one of the most chronic and invisible types of plastic pollution.

Pellets are the building blocks of virtually all plastic products, according to a statement. These lentil-sized pieces of plastic are spilt at all stages of the plastic supply chain due to poor handling and management, including during recycling.

They are easily eaten by myriad species, including seabirds such as puffins, albatross chicks and fulmars. This can have a series of detrimental implications for growth, feeding, reproducing, and ultimately these animals’ survival.

An estimated 230,000 tonnes of pellets enter the ocean every year; the equivalent of over ten billion plastic bottles. In order to truly address pellet pollution, an approach that encompasses the whole plastic supply chain is needed.

In late March, standards-setting body BSI launched the development of the first international pellet standard –a landmark step in developing best practice measures in pellet handling and management for all supply chain companies to implement to prevent pellet pollution.

To enable auditing and demonstration of compliance with the standard along full supply chains, a certification scheme is being explored in parallel. FFI is part of a Scottish Government-led working group on pellets that is trialling how such a certification scheme could work in practice.

Once a standard and certification scheme are in place, they will provide an excellent system by which to implement and verify best practice in pellet handling and management.

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the valuable role that plastic can play when responding to crises. The pandemic also lays bare the importance of protecting nature to prevent crises emerging in the first place, according to the statement.

Governments and companies now have an opportunity to rebuild in a way that minimises plastic pollution, removes unnecessary uses and ensure that where plastic is necessary, it is made, used and disposed of responsibly, says FFI.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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