Plastics: Pollution

(asked on 6th February 2024) - View Source

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to tackle pre-production plastic pellet, nurdle, pollution in the marine environment.

Answered by
Robbie Moore Portrait
Robbie Moore
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
This question was answered on 20th February 2024

Tackling marine plastic pollution in all its forms is a priority for the UK Government, and we’re taking action domestically, regionally and internationally to address this issue.

Our statutory UK Marine Strategy sets out a vision for UK waters to achieve clean, safe, healthy biologically diverse and productive seas, which are used sustainably. The UK Marine Strategy Part One set out our aim for the amount of litter on coastlines and in the marine environment to be declining over time and for levels to not pose a significant risk to the coastal and marine environment.

In 2019, the British Irish Council Ministers recognised the need to address the loss of plastic pellets and supported the development of a Publicly Available Specification developed by the British Standards Institution. This Specification sets out requirements for the handling and management of plastic pellets, flakes and powders throughout the supply chain to prevent spills, leaks and loss to the environment, and was the first of its kind when published in July 2021. Details can be found on the BSI website: PAS 510:2021 | 31 Jul 2021 | BSI Knowledge (

As a Contracting Party to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, the UK develops and implements actions under the OSPAR Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter and has led an action on preventing plastic pellet loss in the supply chain. The action has resulted in the adoption of a Recommendation on minimum requirements for pellet loss certification schemes, to promote coherence in national approaches and drive improved standards throughout the supply chain.

The UK is a leading voice in the negotiation of a new international treaty on plastic pollution and has called for binding provisions to reduce and prevent microplastic pollution from all sources. In particular, the UK has called for specific provisions to prevent and eliminate emissions and releases of plastic pellets, flakes and powders across the whole supply chain.

Additionally, the UK is contributing to discussions at the International Maritime Organisation regarding requirements for the shipping of plastic pellets. Recommendations on the carriage of plastic pellets by sea in freight containers are under development and are expected to be approved this year. The UK is pushing for action to be taken as soon as possible to reduce the incidence of plastic pellet spills at sea.

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