A North Devon couple have produced what is thought to be the first viable way to rid beaches of the menace of micro-plastics, specifically nurdles.
An estimated 6,600,000,000,000 small plastic nurdles enter European seas every year. They look remarkably like fish eggs and maggots, so are readily consumed by wildlife and can easily find their way into the human food chain.
Joshua Beech from Ilfracombe has set up Nurdle, a not-for-profit organisation, to try and tackle this menace, working with his partner Hope Buck.
The couple have already sold 15 of their hand-powered nurdle trommels, that sift the plastic from the sand, but have big plans in 2019 to produce a new motorised machine that will munch its way through nurdles even faster.
Nurdles are pre-industrial micro plastics spilt into the environment by production plants around the globe and all plastic products are made from them as it is the easiest form to ship them in.
They are not dropped on beaches by anyone, but get washed in with the tide.
Josh said no one else in the world was doing what Nurdle is doing. He added: “Micro-plastics are the most ingested form of plastic for marine life, affecting organisms as small as plankton and as large as whales.
“Now, North Devon has the highest amount of plastic removal trommels out of anywhere in the world and we’re building a machine here to give them some reinforcement.”
The trommels have been sponsored by local companies, including The Hip and Pistol, Your IT Man, and three by Parkdean Resorts, which operates the beach at Croyde.
Josh said: “Croyde is one of the worst beaches for nurdles that we have ever seen. If we can build a machine to clean Croyde then it can clean any beach in the world.”
The couple are working closely with Plastic Free North Devon and their hand-powered machines can be seen at every PFND beach clean and will be running daily throughout the spring and summer with Parkdean.
The motorised machine they are developing is set to go into production this year, with all profits from the sale of trommels being ploughed back into creating the new machine.
Any local companies willing to provide sponsorship or anyone who wants to find out more about buying or using a nurdle trommel can go to https://nurdle.org.uk/