Keep Those Nurdles Out of our Rivers and Ocean!


nurldes by train track

LA Waterkeeper Looks to Plastics Manufacturing Industry to Address Nurdles Pollution

Over the past year, LA Waterkeeper has been researching the impacts of plastic pellet pollution and investigating sources of this pollution in Los Angeles. Studies abound that demonstrate that plastics found in aquatic ecosystems, like our rivers and ocean, can have sever impacts on freshwater and marine species. And accounts over many years indicate that plastics, including plastic pellets, are some of the most widely found trash items on our beaches and in our rivers during clean-up events.

The City of Los Angeles has taken great initiative to implement trash control devices on storm drains, improve its street sweeping activities, and increase its availability of recycling opportunities. Despite municipal action, however, plastic pellets (or nurdles) continue to be found in our rivers and ocean, threatening species and the environment. One area that LA Waterkeeper focuses attention on is the plastic manufacturing industry- these are the facilities that actually use nurdles to make plastic products like bags and other packaging. Turns out there are dozens in Los Angeles.

Plastic manufacturers are regulated under a statewide stormwater permit that prohibits them from discharging pellets into streets, gutters, storm drains, and local waterways. Unfortunately, our investigators have already found 8-10 facilities in violation of this requirement. Specifically, our visits have revealed piles of nurdles outside of the facilities on the sidewalk, in the gutter, and along nearby railways. Every time it rains, this pollution ends up in our waterways- so we are working with local and regulatory authorities to get these facilities to clean up their mess and comply with the law. We hope to have several success stories before it starts raining in a couple of months. Stay tuned!

Try these sources for more information on the impacts of plastics pollution:

Algalita Marine Research Institute


National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

5 Gyres

We will also be studying microplastics and nurdles at our Coastal Cleanup Day event on September 21st. To sign up, click here!

-Liz Crosson, Executive Director

Contact Us

LA Waterkeeper
120 Broadway, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Phone: 310-394-6162
Fax: 310-394-6178

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