In recent years and with increasing frequency, researchers have been reporting that seabirds, turtles and fish are ingesting a wide variety of plastic items that are affecting their health. Most of these plastics are used consumer products (e.g. bottles, caps, containers, etc.) that have been carelessly discarded. Some of this litter is made of resin pellets that entered the waste stream and the oceans. When these pellets are eaten by wildlife, they cannot be processed by their digestive tracts, which might lead to malnutrition and starvation.
While consumers are responsible for the proper disposal of the products they use, the plastics industry must focus on proper containment of its products. We must prevent the pellets from getting into waterways that finally lead to the sea.
Along the value chain, starting in our own plants, all employees must be educated on how to properly handle and dispose of plastic pellets with the goal to reach zero pellet losses at each step of the production and logistic processes.
The Swedish plastics industry is taking part in the shaping of solutions to this complex societal issue. Plastics should not end up in the oceans, and marine litter is not acceptable. We are currently developing a communication toolkit which will allow us to raise awareness among industry workers. They will learn the effects of resin pellets on the environment, as a first step to encourage a revision of the procedures and wastewater systems used in our factories.