Plastic pellet pollution used to be a topic that the mainstream media didn't write much about. Not anymore. These days, your neighbors and family probably know something about the issue — although I'm betting that the chances are better than 50-50 that they call them "nurdles" instead of pellets.
I saw a flurry of stories this week reporting that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had introduced a bill in Congress that would crack down on pellet pollution. I'm not exactly sure why — he introduced the bill a month ago.
The bill, dubbed the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, is sponsored in the Senate by Durbin and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. The legislation would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets and other pre-production plastic into waterways from facilities and sources that make, use, package or transport pellets.
That's right, it's aimed directly at plastics processors and suppliers. The Senate bill mirrors one in the House that Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat, introduced in May 2022.
Many Plastics News readers are no doubt familiar with Operation Clean Sweep, an international campaign aimed at helping the industry achieve zero pellet loss. OCS has been a big success for the many companies that follow its protocols, but it's voluntary.
Durbin and Lowenthal want regulations with more teeth, and they want to ensure that all plastics companies follow the best practices to avoid pellet loss — and to be held accountable to cover the costs of spills.
A previous version of the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act passed the House in 2021 but died in the Senate.