What is a Nurdle?

by | Jul 26, 2019 | Blog, Community, Environment

It was September 2017 where the word Nurdle first entered my vocabulary. I was doing some internet research on cotton bud marine pollution and found Scotland’s environmental charity organisation FIDRA website. They run the ‘The Cotton Bud Project’ tackling sewage-related cotton bud marine pollution and had a sister campaign called ‘The Great Nurdle Hunt’. Little did I know at the time that I would ever see a nurdle and how many times I would be writing and vocalising that word in the following 18 months.

It didn’t take long at all for me to find my first nurdles. Was it one day or a couple of days after I’d read about them on that site that I was at the beach collecting them?

It felt odd that a problem plastic I read about happening on the other side of the world, that seemed so foreign, could be here on my local beach. My beach, ‘Shelly Beach’, is quite a distance away from any city, industry or stormwater outlet.

And, weirdly enough, the third campaign on the FIDRA website was around microplastics. Why is that weird? Because the beach that I was cleaning in my volunteer time, had all three problem plastics at concentrated levels; cotton buds, nurdles and microplastics.

Oh, wait, you still have no idea what I’m talking about do you? “Nurdle?” you ask, “What’s a nurdle?

I made this video with Tangaroa Blue Founder Heidi Taylor to explain. It was nurdles that brought Heidi to Warrnambool town. And, not just a few nurdles; but a ‘Class 2 State Emergency’ Nurdle spill.

So, it was September 22nd, 2017 that I collected my first nurdles and wrote a Facebook post about them and then, just two months later, we had a large spill of nurdles – possibly millions- into the ocean via our local waste water treatment plant. And then, the word ‘nurdle’ was known to many (well, in our town anyway).

There is plenty to this ‘nurdle’ story and I’ve supplied a load of links below for you to peruse. And, I mean loads! Maybe our locally polluted nurdles were always destined for notoriety… it was only one week before the fated ‘Nurdle spill’ that a photo I took of nurdles on Shelly Beach made the UK’s Huffington Post.

If you would like to become a Nurdle Hunter and help rid the sea of nurdles then please join my Facebook page Good Will Nurdle Hunting.

Here is a very short glossary of terms to familiarise yourself with:

Nurdle: Nurdles are pre-production resin pellets. They are the raw material used to make nearly all our plastic products.
Nurdling (Verb): The act of collecting nurdles.
Nurdle Hunt: To look for and collect nurdles.
Nurdle Hunter: A name for a person who collects nurdles.