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Surfers’ covert film exposes plastic pellet’s route from factory to beach litter

It’s World Environment Day and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) investigators have released a film that exposes poor industry practice from ‘plastic injection moulding factories’, which is leading to a pollution epidemic of the nation’s waterways and coastline.

SAS campaigners have focused their attention on plastic and polystyrene pellets. These are the very raw materials that many of today’s plastic products are moulded from, yet millions of them are being deposited around the UK’s coastline.

Little more than a few millimetres in diameter, the pellets, which have been nicknamed ‘mermaids tears’ by campaigners, are the second most common litter item found on UK beaches (Marine Conservation Society’s 2007 Beachwatch data). By their very nature they do not biodegrade, absorb harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in concentrations up to a million times greater than the surrounding seawater and they can also be a deadly threat to sea life, which mistake them for food.

Over the past few months, SAS investigators have filmed at several plastic injection-moulding factories in Cornwall, documenting poor housekeeping practice, which is responsible for spilled pellets making their way into local waters and eventually the ocean.

In particular, we documented spilled pellets routinely left outside the factory premises, clusters of plastic and polystyrene pellets inside storm drain grills, pellets floating in their masses inside drains outside factories and wind-blown pellets strewn around other industrial premises nearby to the factories.

The film can be viewed here www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFfbhhIVt3I