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Machine which could save beaches from microplastic is launched

16th March 2020

Volunteers turned out in force to help launch a microplastics beach cleaning machine.

Viridor has collaborated with community interest company Nurdle to sponsor 15 beach cleaning trommels, which can be used to sift through sand and remove microplastics from the natural environment.

The trommels are being donated to local beach cleaning groups around the South West and Wales.

And the first machines were handed over during a beach clean launch event at Croyde in North Devon.


The lucky groups to receive a trommel were Plastic Free North Devon, North Devon AONB and local Eco Schools.

The remaining trommels will be donated during the remainder of the tour, which is happeneing between March and May.

Dan Cooke, Head of Sustainability for Viridor, said: “Sponsoring the Nurdle trommels helps us accomplish our goals in terms of practical action to capture and recycle more plastics.

"But we wanted to take that one step further and so we will be taking the beach plastic which is collected to give it a recycling solution.

"The plastic will be used to create fence posts and similar products, which themselves are designed to be recycled when they reach end-of-life. We’ll also be working with universities and research partners to explore alternative recycling solutions for these materials.

"Plastic, like the glass, paper and aluminium cans which come through our recycling facilities, should be put back into a circular economy wherever possible.”

To mark the occasion volunteers - with the help of pupils from Georgeham Primary School and Pilton Community College - spent the morning cleaning the beach.


Sylvie Verinder, Co-Director at Nurdle, said: “Coastal environments play a major role in capturing and filtering ocean plastic debris. A large portion of plastic pollution from the land is likely to return to shore not long after being released.

"We need to capture this before a proportion escapes to offshore waters, fluxes around the coast or gets consumed by local wildlife mistaking it for food.

“Floating plastic is slowly fragmenting as it moves around in coastal environments, and some eventually makes its way to offshore waters. Capturing microplastics, as well as macroplastics, on beach cleans, along with ocean clean-ups will make a significant difference to our environment.”

Nurdle has already collected more than 25 million pieces of microplastic, with 2.1 tonnes of sand sieved on a single beach clean and 5,350,000 pieces of plastic removed by one trommel in one clean.


The trommel sponsorship project has given Nurdle the funds it needed to complete the prototype of the bigger microplastic collector – The Basking Shark – which has been in development over the last year thanks to crowd funding and other sponsors.

The Basking Shark has the capacity to collect 840 litres of microplastics in one load – this translates to around 16 million pieces of microplastic in one full load.

Data collected from the beach cleans will be shared with Plymouth University to support research on microplastics.

To get involved with the beach cleans check the @nurdlecoasts events page on Facebook. Nurdle’s new website will be coming soon

For further information please contact: