We sent them pellets gathered from beaches in the Firth of Forth region, as well as a selection from the Frier Fjord in Norway. Initially, the pellets have been sorted and ordered by colour and shape. Spectroscopy analysis allows them to be classified additionally by plastic type. The Firth of Forth pellets are shown in the picture above. Some of you might recognise the classic colour combinations!
This is only the beginning. Norner plans to do more detailed chemical fingerprinting of these pellets, allowing them to check both for specific additives added during pellet production, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that may have adsorbed to the surface of the pellets from surrounding sea water. They may also be able to estimate the 'age' of the pellet by looking at the extent of UV degradation and weathering (this may be the reason that some clear pellets have become yellow over time), which will help us to know how many fresh pellets are appearing on our beaches.
In the future it may be possible to send off pellet batches to the laboratory for similar analysis. If you're interested, keep hold of your pellets, and watch this space!
In the meantime, the International Pellet Watch team are always interested in getting more pellets for their analysis, which uses pellets to monitor for levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants in waters around the globe.