MORE than half a million nurdles have been collected in an eight-hour clean-up on a small stretch of beach in the Firth of Forth – and the difference was barely noticeable at the end of the day.

The nurdles – industrial plastic granules used in the manufacture of plastic products – were collected on a 50-metre stretch of shoreline at Bo’ness, West Lothian. Environmental charity Fidra, which was behind the clean-up with the Marine Conservation Society Scotland, reckons there must be many millions more in the area.

Fidra project officer Madeleine Berg said volunteers had spent eight hours collecting the pellets with dustpans, tweezers and sieves, to no avail.

She said: “With the ‘Nurdling 9-5’ event, we wanted to get a better idea of how many pellets were on a highly polluted beach. Although we collected nurdles all day, we barely scratched the surface. From these estimates, there must be many millions on this small stretch of beach alone.”

The aim of the event was to highlight the levels of pellet pollution on some beaches in Scotland and further afield. Clean-up is close to impossible, and Fidra says the pollution must be stopped at source.

Fidra’s Sarah Archer added: “We want to ensure the positive changes made by parts of industry are now applied right across the supply-chain. The plastics supply chain is complex, but legislation would make sure all companies handling plastic pellets do so responsibly, and that this source of microplastic pollution is eliminated.”