Freight News, Logistics, Sea

The dreaded nurdle

[ November 29, 2023   //   ]

Shippers need to be aware of the environmental risks of transporting plastic pellets or ‘nurdles’, says freight insurer, TT Club.

The tiny plastic nurdles measuring a few millimetres in diameter used to manufacturer most plastic products pose a threat to the marine environment if they are spilled into the sea or waterways. They also have a unique chemical composition that leads to them absorbing toxins, adding to risks in the food chain.

TT’s logistics risk manager, Josh Finch, comments: “Some estimates count as many as one in ten containerised consignments experience some form of spillage. Additionally, packing of bulk road and rail tank containers, often undertaken outside, often incurs incidental spillages. A greater understanding of the risks involved in handling and transporting these products is required.  At TT, we are both raising awareness and offering advice particularly on appropriate packaging and container packing that minimises cargo shifting and split packaging resulting in spillages.”

TT advice covers the stability of the cargo within tank and dry bulk containers, cardboard boxes with plastic linings, polypropylene or cloth bags and sacks, and intermediate bulk containers and drums, along with the correct weight distribution to reduce movement during sea voyages in particular.

“There are no easy solutions to the challenges of safely transporting nurdles,” concludes Finch. “Tank containers are viewed as costly, while bags split and shift in transit.  However, it is important to emphasise that the risks to safety are not commonly understood, and that the environmental repercussions of spillages are a danger throughout the supply chain – on land and for the oceans. A proactive approach to risk mitigation is advisable.”