City of Greater Dandenong’s Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) is raising industry awareness about the environmental risks associated with plastic resin pellets.
Often referred to as ‘nurdles’, plastic resin pellets are a common raw material used to manufacture plastic products such as drink bottles and food containers. They pose a significant risk to the environment and human health because they absorb chemical pollutants to their surfaces, and can easily enter water ways and the food chain.
In July 2019, the OPLE observed a large amount of nurdles in a stormwater drain located in Dandenong South and spread along nearby drain banks. Following a desktop assessment to identify local businesses which may be responsible, the OPLE engaged an EPA Environment Protection Officer (EPO) to assist in tracing the source.
Together, the EPA authorised officers walked the length of the drain and traced the nurdles back to a manufacturing business that produced plastic products, including plastic shoe and heel components. The company had been liquidated, with an online auctioneer facilitating the sale and removal of machinery and plastics onsite.
'The site was a mess, with spilled nurdles distributed around the site that were flowing into the stormwater system every time it rained', the OPLE said.
'It was important that the site was cleaned up. Nurdles damage our environment in many ways, including harming aquatic and marine animals that mistake them for fish eggs, and entering the food chain and impacting human health'.
EPA served the duty holder with a minor works pollution abatement notice requiring them to clean up the site and prevent further nurdles entering the stormwater system.
The notice was revoked after the duty holder provided evidence that they had remedied the situation.
'Spills and mishandling by industry are the major sources of nurdles entering waterways, so it’s vital that businesses have sufficient control measures in place'.
Industry guidance on liquid storage and handling can be found on EPA’s website.