The Mediterranean Shipping Company says clean-up operations to remove the small plastic pellets from the KZN coastline are ongoing, but the timeframe to complete the job will depend on factors like sea and weather conditions. Members of The Blue Crew, from left to right Bonani Mngoma, Sarah Ntuli, Duduzile Cele and Thokozile Ndebele, have been in action on Durban’s beachfront and Mdloti, helping collect nurdles that have washed ashore following the recent Durban harbour cargo spill.

The clean-up of plastic “nurdles” – after a spill during the recent devastating storm in Durban – is ongoing and will depend on several factors, including weather conditions.

The “nurdles”, said the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company in a statement, were small, plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic bottles, buckets, children toys and paddling pool liners. 

“MSC transports these pellets between the companies which make them and the companies that use them for manufactured goods.”

Some of the pellets made their way from the cargo-owner’s bags into Durban harbour during the recent storm.

Global public relations manager for MSC Giles Broom told The Mercury yesterday that the clean-up operation had been led by the company through specialised contractors Resolve Marine Group and Drizit Environmental. 

“These contractors, via their boat patrols, divers and beach-based clean-up teams, are working every day from first light. 

“They have collected a vast quantity of so-called nurdles, as well as other debris unrelated to the MSC container.”

Broom said the operation was ongoing and its conclusion would depend on factors like sea and weather conditions. 

“MSC’s contractors are in regular contact with the government and port authorities, as well as the volunteer members of the public who are helping out.”

The update follows the first Break Free from Plastic Africa meeting held in Durban this month, where an international group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) came together to highlight the threat plastics pose to the world's oceans.