At Risk From Plastic

A quarter of Scotland's population live along the Forth's shores accompanied by the industry and trade that supports our society. It is no surprise that with all of this human activity plastic is the dominant type of litter along the Forth's shores. What is surprising is the great number of nurdles that make up this marine litter.

Accidental spillage and mishandling by the large plastic industry around the Forth means nurdles have been washed into our estuary for many years. Aged yellowed nurdles from historic spills can still be seen on our beaches. Concern over nurdle pollution into the Forth resulted in manufacturers taking steps to stop further losses. However despite these improvements and continued monitoring by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), new nurdles are still washing up on our shores.

We do not know where these fresh nurdles are coming from. However unlike manufacturers, companies that use or transport nurdles around the Forth are not subject to controls from SEPA. In addition, SEPA have no jurisdiction over shipping cargo or docks.

Spillages occur easily and without good handling practices nurdles will find their way into our waterways and ultimately our sea. The map shows all of streams and rivers which feed into the Forth. Any nurdles spilt in this 1,800 square mile area can end up in our estuary.

risk of plastics in the forth


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© Barbara Agnew