With the resurgence of plastic nurdle pollution across beaches, marine conscious organisations have banded together to launch the Litter4Tokens Nurdle SA Clean-Up competition. Picture: Litter4Tokens
With the resurgence of plastic nurdle pollution across beaches, marine conscious organisations have banded together to launch the Litter4Tokens Nurdle SA Clean-Up competition. Picture: Litter4Tokens

Clean-Up competition to wipe away ‘mermaid tears’

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Oct 14, 2021

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Cape Town - With the resurgence of plastic nurdle pollution across beaches, marine conscious organisations have banded together to launch the Litter4Tokens Nurdle SA Clean-Up competition.

Litter4Tokens in partnership with Lifesaving South Africa and the Centre of Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) will be running the educational and clean-up campaign that addressed the devastating impact of nurdles, otherwise known mermaid’s tears, on marine life until February next year.

Prizes will be awarded to both the lifesaving club and the individual that collected the most nurdles (lentil-sized plastic pellets melted to form plastic products).

Litter4Tokens founder and Nurdle SA chief executive officer Clare Swithenbank-Bowman said the competition called on the public to collect and dispose of nurdles at Drumpal drums located at lifesaving clubs along the South African coastline.

Swithenbank-Bowman said it was important that the drums be used because nurdles could not be placed in recycling bins.

Swithenbank-Bowman said the competition was part of Litter4Token’s ongoing projects responding to the catastrophic spill of trillions of plastic nurdles by Vinmar Polymers America and ExxonMobil in August last year off the coast of Plettenberg Bay – of which only 12.6% of the 174.5 metric tons of nurdles were retrieved.

“Currently, nurdles are not considered hazardous as per the OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act), Hazard Communication Standard and IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) code.

“In fact, most shippers don’t even know they have them on board, but if containers are lost at sea, the bags will split open, dispersing the nurdles,” said Swithenbank-Bowman.

Swithenbank-Bowman said this micro-plastic was detrimental to marine ecosystems and humans because they quickly find their way into food systems which lead to ulceration, starvation and death.

Lifesaving SA president Dhaya Sewduth said: “This project finds synergy with the efforts of thousands of our voluntary duty members who contribute to environmental stewardship and conservation in aquatic environments as their small contribution towards achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In support of the cause, Litter4Tokens developed a Mermaid Tear Catcher (MTC) device with holes to sieve the nurdles out of the dry sea or river sand for collection and disposal at the drums in Milnerton Surf Lifesaving Club, Muizenberg or Fish Hoek Shark Spotter’s office, or at other locations identified by Spilltech on the Litter4tokens website.

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