Action Alert: South Carolina must regulate Plastic Pellets

Small plastic pellets – called nurdles – are the basic building blocks of most plastic products. The Port of Charleston is a major exporter of nurdles. The lack of effective regulations in the handling of nurdles has resulted in spills that have polluted waters in Charleston and around the world.

There are about 20,000 nurdles in a pound, and hundreds of billions of them are accidentally spilled in rivers and oceans every year. The Port of Charleston shipped 226,000 tons of the plastic pellets in 2018 and the numbers are expected to increase substantially.

Nurdles are extremely harmful to the marine environment. The tiny plastic pellets are mistaken for food and eaten by birds, fish, and other marine animals, clogging their digestive systems and causing them to starve to death. In addition, toxic chemicals cling to the pellets and kill marine life that ingests them. Because the pellets are so small, they cannot be cleaned up once they enter open water. The solution is to prevent nurdles from getting into our waters.

To learn more about nurdles, click here. There are many articles about the prevalence and hazards of nurdles on the Internet. For more background, simply search the Web using the word “nurdles.”

The Charleston Post and Courier ran this excellent editorial on June 15 about the need to regulate the handling of nurdles. Click here to read more.

To reduce the risk of nurdles polluting our beaches, wetlands, and the ocean, the State legislature should pass a law strictly regulating the storage, handling, and export of these plastic pellets in South Carolina. We encourage you to call on State Senator Chip Campsen to sponsor such legislation. You can reach Senator Campsen here.

You could use this statement, or a modified version when contacting Senator Campsen:

Dear Senator Campsen: Most plastic products are made from small plastic pellets, called nurdles. The Port of Charleston is a major exporter of nurdles. There is little effective regulation of the transport of nurdles from storage facilities in Charleston and their export from the port. These tiny plastic pellets are deadly to marine life and are impossible to clean up once they enter open water. Billions of these insidious pellets are spilled worldwide every year. A spill of nurdles in 2019 polluted our harbor. I call upon you to sponsor legislation to strictly regulate the storage and transport of nurdles.

SIAN contact: Richard Wildermann
SIAN email:

Posted in Environment, News and Alerts