All our latest news and events


Volunteers find plastics pellets (nurdles) on 93% of the beaches surveyed for The Great Technicolour Nurdle Hunt. The event took place across the UK on 13th – 16th April 2018, in total volunteers gave 4545 minutes of their time to nurdling at over 85 nurdle hunts.



The results from the Technicolour Nurdle Hunt show how common nurdles are on UK beaches, with 93% of hunts finding nurdles present and 43% finding over 100 nurdles. The most nurdles found was on a small beach in North Queensferry, Scotland (photo attached), where 450,000 (9.35kg) nurdles were collected which equates to 833 plastic bottles. Volunteers also reported what colours they found. The most common colour found across the hunts is not technically a colour at all. White/clear nurdles were the most common “colour” in 90% of the hunts carried out with black the second and yellow the third most common colours. There was, however, some regional disparity, with black, purple and orange nurdles being more common on the South West Coast of England and blue and yellow nurdles being more common around the Firth of the Forth in Scotland. Alasdair Neilson from Fidra, the environmental charity that runs The Great Nurdle Hunt, stated “it is shocking to see how prevalent nurdles are across the UK coastline. While parts of industry have cleaned up their act, it is clear the status quo cannot solve this issue. For nurdle pollution to be eliminated, responsibility and transparency is needed right across the supply chain.” Douglas Chapman MP for Dunfermline and West Fife who attended the North Queensferry hunt, stated: “Simple best practice measures can mean spills are prevented and cleaned up properly and can stop nurdles entering the marine environment.”


Tracey Williams, nurdle hunter from the group Newquay Beachcombing, stated, “It is impossible to overlook nurdles on many of our beaches here in Cornwall - sometimes the beaches are covered with them. Even beaches that at first glance seem relatively clean often have on closer inspection rows of nurdles and biobeads washed up on them. The more you examine the strandline the more plastic you see”.


To see the full results, click here

Friday, 24 November 2017 10:17

The Great Nurdle Hunt wins the RSPB Nature of Scotland Award for best Marine Conservation Project.

 rspb logo nostrap eng rgb

We are delighted to announce that The Great Nurdle Hunt won the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards for best Marine Conservation Project! It was an inspiring evening at Sheraton hotel in Edinburgh, where 300 people, representing organisations doing a variety of fantastic work across Scotland, came together to celebrate some amazing conservation success stories. The award was presented to our very own Sarah Archer and Madeleine Berg by Esther Villoria Dominguez, the Environmental and Consents Manager for Vattenfall.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017 14:26

nurdles SA Paul McKenzie

'The Fight Against The Tiny Plastic Pellets Choking Our Oceans'


A recent HuffingtonPost article highlighted the threat posed to the marine environment by nurdles as well as those individuals, groups and organisations trying to combat plastic pellet pollution. The article comes as the beaches of Durban, South Africa, continue to feel the effects of a nurdle spill caused when two container ships collided off the KwaZulu-Natal coast during a severe storm. You can read the full article here


Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:20

nurdle squareNurdling 9 to 5 – what a way to make a difference!


A few weeks ago, alongside Marine Conservation Society, and support from Forth Valley College, The Conservation Volunteers and the local community council (as well as avid nurdle hunters!) we headed to Bo'ness beach to collect as many pellets as we possibly could over a full 8 hour day. Over the day we managed to collect a remarkable ~540,000 pellets! Well done everyone!! 


Despite our best efforts, we barely scratched the surface and many more pellets were left on the beach. The following press release highlights the levels of pollution found on hot-spot beaches such as this.


The story has already been covered by an exclusive in the Scotland on Sunday.


Coverage of this story includes articles on BBC Scotland online and The National.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 10:52

PE OCS reportA new report on Operation Clean Sweep by Plastics Europe highlights recent industry action.


The European trade association for plastics producers, Plastics Europe, have released the first public report on Operation Clean Sweep, highlighting the progress the industry association has made over the last couple of years to promote the voluntary scheme to members. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017 06:00

Fidra logo small 1Fidra News Summer 2017


Welcome to our new-look Fidra News, Summer 2017 edition. This new look newsletter replaces our quarterly Nurdle News, as we wanted to make sure we celebrate all of Fidra's projects under one banner. 


Don't worry, there are still plenty of nurdle stories to go round :) .


To download a pdf version of the newsletter, click HERE.


Friday, 04 August 2017 06:00

Fidra logo small 1Pellet Loss Prevention highlighted among Top 5 Actions to Reduce Marine Litter


Five actions could cut plastic waste entering the sea by two thirds, say Policy Thinktank The Green Alliance, in a press release today. 


One of these effective policy shifts is the enforcement of Operation Clean Sweep measures to reduce plastic pellet, or nurdle loss. 


You can see the stunning infographics produced by the organisation HERE.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017 13:51

TGNH Logo EuropeanThe Great European Nurdle Hunt - Results

Thanks to all of you who took part in The Great European Nurdle Hunt in June. We had over 250 nurdle hunters take part over the 4 days, with hunts carried out in 9 different countries!
Better late than never, here are some statistics from the weekend, plus some of your nurdle pics:


Download a Pdf copy of the results HERE.


Friday, 07 April 2017 11:29

Nurdle news web logoNurdle News Spring 2017


The Spring 2017 issue of Nurdle News is now available. We have exciting updates of what we've been doing since all of your hard work during the Great Winter Nurdle Hunt in February! Also updates from Fidra's Cotton Bud Project, and news of other projects that you can get involved with!


Download a Pdf copy of the newsletter HERE.


Friday, 24 February 2017 16:05

sky newsNurdles on Sky Ocean Rescue!


We were lucky enough to have Rebecca Williams from Sky News follow us on one nurdle hunt in Fife. This resulted in a day of nurdle news on the Sky News channel, as part of their Sky Ocean Rescue project. 

Friday, 24 February 2017 15:33

TGWNH2The Great Winter Nurdle Hunt - Results and Media Storm!


Wow! As a result of the FANTASTIC efforts of a huge network of citizen scientists around the UK, we had a bit of a media storm at nurdle hunt HQ! Now the dust has settled we have time to review...



Thursday, 16 February 2017 16:05

eunomiaOptions for Reducing Emissions of Pre-production Plastic Pellets, Powders and Flakes


How can the uptake of nurdle loss prevention measures be improved?


Fidra commissioned Eunomia Research and Consulting to report on potential option to reduce emissions of pre-production plastics (pellets, powders and flakes). Through analysing the plastics supply chain, the structure of the industry, and potential sources of emissions, this study assesses the potential for enhanced voluntary measures and regulatory intervention.


Download the report here


Thursday, 12 January 2017 15:52

toxinsNew research show toxins on plastic pellets can harm marine filter feeders


A new study shows that filter feeding mussel embryos, growing in water that includes nurdles, are far more likely to grow abnormally or die prematurely than those growing in clean water. This suggests that the chemicals associated with the plastic are leaching into the water and harming normal development. 

Thursday, 22 December 2016 14:38

FFI MicrobeadsUK Government launches consultation on microbeads and other microplastics


Earlier this year, the UK government committed to banning microbeads from cosmetic products in order to protect the marine environment...

Thursday, 22 December 2016 13:59

nurdle snowmanA very merry Christmas to all our citizen scientists and supporters, from Fidra, The Great Nurdle Hunt and The Cotton Bud Project!


This year, the nurdle snowman is joined by a starry night of shiny new paper cotton buds! This year has been one of enormous success for The Cotton Bud Project - 

Thursday, 08 December 2016 09:38

bin sieve small2Pick up a pellet or two... 


To take part in our nurdle hunt, you don't need to pick up any pellets at all, just let us know if you spot them. However, we know that most of you want to get rid of as many of the little nurdles as possible before you leave the beach. We've heard news of all sorts of methods to remove microplastics from sand, gravel and other beach debris. In this post I thought I'd share some of these with you. Please remember that we recommend you use gloves to handle pellets, and always thoroughly wash your hands afterwards!


Monday, 10 October 2016 12:28

op clean sweep USOCS Case Studies

Over the last 3 years we have been working hard to promote the Operation Clean Sweep scheme to companies in the local area. This is a voluntary commitment allowing companies to pledge to aim for zero pellet loss from their facilities. 

We have had the pleasure of working with a number of companies who have been highly committed to the scheme, and proactive about making improvements, despite the high standards of house-keeping already present in their facilities. Some of these companies are visible as OCS champs on our website. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 14:42

SMAS 2016SMAS 2016

On Thursday 8th of September, I had the great pleasure of attending the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service conference in Cumbernauld. This conference invites the big players from all across the Scottish manufacturing world to discuss practical insights and share inspiration to ‘move Scotland’s manufacturing industry from where it is now, to where it needs to be’.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 11:01

EACThe Environmental Impacts of Microplastics - Report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee

The Westminster committee has spent much of this year hearing from experts from academia, NGOs, government and retailers about the effects of microplastics in the environment. The focus was mostly on the subject of microbeads in cosmetics, although other sources of microplastic, including nurdles, were also discussed during the consulation.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:30

Nurdle news web logoThe latest edition of the Nurdle News is now available.

Welcome to the Summer 2016 issue of Nurdle News. We have exciting updates from The Great Nurdle Hunt, Fidra's Cotton Bud Project, and details of another great project Fidra supports.

If you're signed up to our newsletter, it should be appearing in your inbox shortly! You can also download a pdf copy here.


Nurdle Hunt HQ

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 09:46

FFICheck out our guest blog at Fauna & Flora International!

We have long worked closely with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), who are one of our essential supporter organisations. This valued partnership has just taken another step forward: You can now view our nurdle map directly on the FFI website, via the magic of i-frames. To celebrate this fact, we have written a blog post all about nurdles and our nurdle hunting habits.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 14:06

magnifying glass final small

Introducing our new Nurdlehunting video how-to guide!

Need a hand hunting for nurdles? Can't quite picture what the little pellets look like? Have you ever wondered whether you've been looking in the right spot? We hope this new film guide will help you answer any remaining questions you have!

Check it out on Fidra's brand-new Youtube channel: - Please share or embed the video on your websites, we'd love as many people to get hooked on nurdle hunting as possible! 

Monday, 13 June 2016 12:01

Norner1 cropLaboratory analysis of beached nurdles 

We have some preliminary results to share with you of some exciting new work we're doing in partnership with Naturvernforbund, Norway, using the plastics analysis laboratories of Norner. This sophisticated facility based in Norway, conducts analysis on plastics and specialise in analysing nurdles. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 11:16

ayrshire post

carrickgazetteMore nurdle press!

Local newspapers in the Ayrshire region have been covering our Clyde Nurdle Quest launch, thanks to the initiative of one of some of our volunteers from the Girvan Rotary Club. Have a look at the articles in the Carrick Gazette and the Ayrshire Post.

Thursday, 05 May 2016 14:10

bbc blocks dark

Nurdles in the News! 

BBC Scotland environment correspondent David Miller has done an excellent piece all about nurdle pollution for TV and radio, which is out today. It features us, and companies we have worked with who are doing great work to tackle and raise awareness of the pellet loss issue.

To watch the video and read the online article, click here.

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 10:23

CNQ Coast crop

The Clyde Nurdle Quest

Last weekend I headed West to the isles of Arran and Cumbrae to help with the launch of an exciting new citizen science nurdle project: The Clyde Nurdle Quest. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016 13:44

A clean sweep

A Clean Sweep?

Following the release of our comissioned pellet loss report, journalist David Burrows has written this great in-depth article evaluating UK pellet loss and the solution offered by Operation Clean Sweep for Recycling and Waste World.

It's a great read and an interesting analysis.


You can find it online here, or download a pdf copy of the article here.


Friday, 15 April 2016 11:08

Nurdle news web logo

Dear Nurdlers,

The Spring 2016 Nurdle News is out, get your copy here.

It's been a busy few months at Fidra! Sarah went on maternity leave at the end of 2015 and left Maddy Berg holding the nurdle hunt reins for the time being. Lots of exciting new updates regarding The Great Easter #Nurdlehunt action and results from our work with industry. 

We also have exciting news about some of our other projects here at Fidra, with website launches and news articles galore,

Happy Reading! 


Nurdle HQ


Monday, 21 March 2016 13:09

TGENH small

Thanks to everyone who took part in our Great Easter Nurdle Hunt

If you haven't yet submitted your finds, you can still do so using our online form. Just let us know any time!

Also please keep continuing to send us photos and reports of your hunts on twitter (@greatnurdler) using the hashtag #nurdlehunt

Thanks to the Marine Conservation Society for their continuing support.

Saturday, 12 March 2016 13:59

The Independent

Toxic pellets imperil British sealife - Independent article

Read all about UK nurdle / plastic pellet loss in this article by The Independent's environment editor, Tom Bawden.

You can read the article online here.

Thursday, 10 March 2016 15:29

Study briefing front page

Putting numbers on nurdles: study to quantify pellet loss in the UK

Over the last two years, our nurdle hunters have reported seeing countless pellets on beaches all across the UK and abroad, but it is impossible to know how old they are or where they come from. Fidra were keen to find out how many new pellets might be entering the environment from industry today. For this reason, we commissioned an independent study of plastic pellet loss in the UK, which was carried out by Eunomia Research and Consulting

Monday, 15 February 2016 10:21

nurdle mapOur nurdle map has a new feature!

A number of companies in the Firth of Forth area have signed up to the Operation Clean Sweep scheme in the last month, showing their commitment to tackling the pellet loss problem. We wanted to share this good news with our fellow nurdle hunters, and highlight the positive steps that many companies are taking to stop new pellet pollution for good. 

Friday, 05 February 2016 16:01



 The Isles of Scilly Wildlife trust have become committed nurdle hunters... check out their blog online.

 Among others, they found purple nurdles- rarely seen up in the Firth of Forth... 

 Read their blog article here, and follow the Wildlife trust on facebook to find out more about their nurdle escapades.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:22

Nurdle news web logo

Committed nurdle hunters around the Firth of Forth have continued hunting and adding their results to the nurdle map, but we're now also encouraging finds from further afield. This will help us build a bigger picture of where nurdles are ending up.

Whether you're north, south, east or west, we'd love to know if you've spotted any nurdles on the beach. Happy hunting!

Read more here

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 11:25

The Independent

PRESS - The Independent, 6 October 2015

Hundreds of thousands of tiny plastic pellets infest British beaches

Tiny pellets of plastic so small that more than 500 fit in a single egg cup are washing up on beaches in Britain - and posing a significant threat to marine wildlife.

Read more here

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 08:09


PRESS - The Ecologist, 5 October 2015

Millions of plastic pellets contaminate Cornwall beaches

Cornish beaches are awash with millions of 'nurdles', tiny wildlife-choking plastic pellets presumed spilled from an rogue shipping container. As England's plastic bag charge comes into force, it's a sign that there's still a long way to go to rid our seas of the plastic menace.

Read more here

Friday, 21 August 2015 09:08

PRESS - Recycling and Waste World 19 August 2015 

Plastics problem rises to the surface (David Burrows) 

Marine litter is currently one of the sexier environmental topics, with the focus on bottles and bags in particular. But behind those headline-grabbers lurks a material that has slipped under the radar and out into the sea. David Burrows reports on what the UN, the plastics industry and others are doing about it....

Read more here

Tuesday, 07 April 2015 14:21

nature world news logoPRESS - Nature World News 1 April 2015 

Puffins Eating Plastic? Pellets Threaten the Isle of May (Brian Stallard)

The iconic puffin, a bird being considered as one of 10 candidates to be the UK's national bird, may be in trouble. Experts are finding a disturbing amount of plastic in the bellies of puffins around the Isle of May, and they say this could spell for severe ecological consequences....

Read more here

Tuesday, 07 April 2015 14:09

sci world rep logoPRESS - Science World Report 1 April 2015 

Plastic Pellets Discovered in the Tummies of Adorable Puffins in Scotland (Catherine Griffin)

Plastic pollution is impacting our seas-everywhere from surface waters to the sea ocean. Now, though, scientists have made a somewhat unsettling discovery. I turns out that puffins on the Isle of May in Scotland are actually nibbling on little nuggets of plastic....

Read more here

Tuesday, 07 April 2015 13:54

news 10PRESS - East Lothian Courier 7 April 2015 

Alarm as plastic pellets are found in puffins' stomachs

CONCERN is growing that puffins living on islands off the coast of North Berwick are regularly eating harmful plastic pellets they mistake for food...

Read more here

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:33

TFN logoPRESS - Third Force News 26 March 2015 

Forth puffins poisoned by plastics industry (Graham Martin)

Puffins in the Firth of Forth may have been poisoned by pellets spilled into the sea by the plastics industry......

Read more here

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:22

Courier logoPRESS - The Courier 27 March 2015 

Plastic pollution is an all-consuming threat to puffins (Claire Warrender)

Puffins are mistaking discarded plastic for food, according to new research. Experts say the discovery of small plastic pellets, or nurdles, in the stomachs of the birds, often called the clowns of the sea, is far from a joke.......

Read more here

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:19

news sm logoPRESS - East Lothian News 28 March 2015 

Plastic pellets called 'nurdles' are posing a danger to puffins

Often called the 'clown of the sea', it is no joke that puffins found on a National Nature Reserve are mistaking plastic 'nurdles' for food......

Read more here

Monday, 30 March 2015 17:14

CBS News LogoPRESS - CBS News 27 March 2015 

Plastic pellets found in puffin tummies (Amanda Schupak)

Researchers in Scotland have made an unsettling discovery. Puffins on the Isle of May are nibbling on nurdles, the little nuggets that serve as raw materials for plastics manufacturing.....

Read more here

Monday, 30 March 2015 17:09

Times logoPRESS - The Times 27 March 2015 

Puffins put at risk from waste pellets (Jeremy Watson)

Puffin colonies of international importance are at risk from plastic waste. A study of the eating habits of puffins on the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth found plastic pellets, called nurdles in the stomachs of many of the birds....

Read more here

Monday, 30 March 2015 16:55

stv logoTV - STV 27 March 2015 

Concern for Forth puffins after plastic pellets found in their stomachs (Susan Ripon)

A recent study on the Isle of May found some of the birds had been mistaking the objects, known as 'nurdles', for food.s....

Watch more here

Monday, 30 March 2015 16:48

dailymail logoPRESS - Daily Mail 26 March 2015 

Dying in agony birds poisoned by plastic pellets (Bill Caven)

With their colourful beaks and aerobatic antics, puffins are among the UK's favorite birds. But many are now suffering agonising deaths because of increasing amounts of plastic waste at sea....

Read more here

Monday, 30 March 2015 16:33

scotsman logoPRESS - The Scotsman 26 Mar 2015 

Plastic pollution found inside dead seabirds (Ilona Amos)

POST-MORTEM examinations on puffins found dead on a Scottish island have found their stomachs littered with small plastic pellets used in the manufacturing industry.....

Read more here

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00

news 10PRESS RELEASE 25 Mar 2015 

Forth puffins found with plastic nurdles in their stomachs

Often called the 'clown of the sea', it is no joke that puffins found on a National Nature Reserve are mistaking plastic 'nurdles' for food.

Puffins collected on the Isle of May have recently been dissected by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and as well as finding sand eels, their normal food, in their stomachs they also found small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil.

Mark Newell from CEH explained, "We regularly collect puffins found dead on the Island to help us monitor the health of the population. As part of this research we look at what they have been eating. At first we didn't know what the strange pieces of plastics were, but we found them in a number of the puffins' stomachs. When 'The Great Nurdle Hunt' contacted us asking if we had found any small plastic pellets in the seabirds we were studying I realised they were nurdles."

Nurdles are the plastic industries' raw material. Melted together they form nearly all the plastic products we use. Accidental spills mean billions of these pellets now litter the world's oceans and the Forth is no exception.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said, "The Isle of May is of international importance for puffins and soon tens of thousands of them will return for the start of the breeding season. To hear of puffins ingesting nurdles in the Firth of Forth is very alarming news. Not only can nurdles get trapped in their stomach but the toxic chemicals on the surface of the plastic may have terrible repercussions. It is vital that we all do what we can to resolve this issue."

Iain Rennick, Scottish Natural Heritage's Unit Manager for Forth said: "The Isle of May attracts around 250,000 seabirds each year making it one of Scotland's largest breeding seabird colonies. It also has one of the UK's largest breeding populations of puffins. While we don't fully understand all the impacts they have, nurdles and other marine litter are a real threat to all our marine wildlife. It's important to do all we can to keep our seas clean and litter-free."

Cathy Sexton of 'The Great Nurdle Hunt' said, "For almost a year locals from around the Forth and beyond have been scouring the coast hunting for nurdles and reporting their findings to The Great Nurdle Hunt. It's clear from the sightings that there is a serious problem around the Forth. They are turning up on most of our beaches and some parts of the estuary are littered with thousands of them.

We have contacted the plastic companies around the Forth and using the public sightings shown them the impact nurdles are having on the local environment. By adopting simple changes to their operations local plastics companies who manufacture, transport or use nurdles can prevent any risk of spills ending up in the estuary. I am pleased to say that as a result we are now in discussion with a number of those companies who are keen to help keep nurdles out of the Forth. However this discovery on the Forth's National Nature Reserves is a disturbing and serious reminder of the effects nurdles are having on wildlife and the pressing need for industry to act to prevent more seabirds from being affected."


Monday, 02 March 2015 18:12

Nurdle news web logoNURDLE NEWS - March 2015

Nurdle News Oct Image

From Eigg to Amsterdam, intrepid nurdle hunters have been on the beaches over the winter adding to our sightings map.

We now have 90 sightings from around the Forth and we are now getting finds from right around the UK and even Europe.

read more here


Tuesday, 15 July 2014 00:00

Nurdle news web logoNURDLE NEWS - Oct 2014

Nurdle News Oct Image

Since the official launch of The Great Nurdle Hunt in May Nurdle HQ has been a hive of activity.

Over the summer intrepid Nurdle Hunters from around the Forth and beyond have been scouring the coast and as a result we have now notched up over 100 finds.

read more here


Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

news sm logoPRESS - POST 23 May 2014 

Microplastics, citizen science and The Great Nurdle Hunt

by Ellen Young

Today a citizen science initiative has been launched to curb the release of microplastics into the Forth Estuary....

Read more here

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

news sm FFIPRESS - POST 23 May 2014 

Scottish residents search beaches for plastic 'nurdles'

by Sarah Rakowski

Concerned local residents have launched 'The Great Nurdle Hunt' to help put an end to microplastic pollution on Scottish beaches....

Read more here

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

news sm logoPRESS - East Lothian Courier 23 May 2014 

Nurdlers to target beach plastic

A group of mums are urging beach visitors to take part in a special hunt for 'nurdle'....

Read more here

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00

news 1


Launch - 23 May 2014

We are delighted to announce that on Friday 23 May we officially launched The Great Nurdle Hunt to the press. We have come a long way since the initiative started last year. This is thanks in a large part to the overwhelming support we have received from individuals and organisations large and small.

Intrepid nurdle hunters have been out scouring the shores of the Forth. So far we have had just under 100 nurdle sighting sent to our website mainly in the Forth but we are getting sightings across Scotland the UK and Europe. The data we are gathering is beginning to help us see trends but the more we gather the more compelling the argument that we need change now.

The Great Nurdle Hunt firmly believes the plastic industry should to do their bit to keep our seas clean and plastic free. We have been in discussion with the plastic trade associations and plastic industry operating around the Forth to explain the issue and explore how to work together to stop further nurdle pollution into the Firth of Forth. So far our conversations have been very encouraging and this is in the mainly because of the local support and evidence we have been gathering.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00

news sm logoPRESS - STV Edinburgh 24 May 2014 


by Ally Tibbitt

A group of Lothian mums are calling on Lothian residents to help them cut plastic pollution on Firth of Forth beaches...

Read more here