A two-day trial is taking place at Chessel Bay in Bitterne Manor to clean up tiny plastic pellets, called ‘nurdles’, using a specially designed machine.
The Environment Agency-funded trial is taking place on August 18 and 19 at the Local Nature Reserve, which has been drastically polluted with nurdles.
'The build-up of plastic on the nature reserve on the Itchen is an absolute disgrace'
Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets (approx 4mm in size) used in injection moulding machines when creating most of our plastic products including single use plastic bottles, containers, shopping bags and supermarket packaging.
When spilt into waterways they become prolific pollutants.
As reported in January, social enterprise ‘Nurdle’ designed a prototype machine to remove microplastics from the environment.
Nurdle collection machine
They have now partnered with the cleaning company Karcher and have produced a second machine designed specifically to improve the health of Chessel Bay.
It works by vacuuming up the material, sieving and separating it from organics and removing the nurdles.
Speaking to bitternepark.info at the time, Josh Beech from Nurdle said pellets should be captured before currents can take them out to sea and they dissipate along the coastline.
"The trial clean in Chessel Bay will provide us with a strong case study to be able to take action against polluters who damage the oceans by spilling pre production pellets (nurdles) into the environment,” he said.
“It will also showcase that the machine will be able to tackle the most severe pollution in incredibly fragile sites."
Leader of Southampton City Council, Cllr Daniel Fitzhenry (Con), said about the trial: “I applaud the ground breaking and innovative work being done by the Environment Agency and Nurdle to clean up this plastic pollution from a Site of Special Scientific Interest here in Southampton.”
University of Southampton microplastic researcher Dr Malcolm Hudson said: “The build-up of plastic on the nature reserve on the Itchen is an absolute disgrace, and could be very damaging to protected wildlife. The University is very pleased to be able to help on this important project which could improve the health of the local coastal environment enormously.”
If successful, the trial could pave the way for a full site clean-up next year.
Could new tech solve nurdle problems at Chessel Bay?