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Pass the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act

Pass the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act

Stop the discharge of plastic pellets into America's waterways and ocean!

Plastic pellets, also known as "nurdles," are the pre-production building blocks of nearly all plastic goods. Shockingly, current law allows plastic manufacturers and shippers to discharge trillions of these plastic pellets directly into America's waterways and ocean with little to no enforcement. . 

These tiny granules of plastic — less than 5 millimeters in size — are a huge risk to our ecosystems. According to a 2020 report, an estimated 200,000 metric tons (approximately 10 trillion nurdles!) of plastic pellets make their way into the ocean every year. They are often mistaken for fish eggs or other food by sea life and birds, and can lead to malnourishment and death. These nurdles are increasingly found at beach cleanups, notably in Texas

That's why we need the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act! 

Originally introduced by Sen.Mark Udall in 2020, the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act (S.2337/HR 7634) was reintroduced by Sen. Dick Durbin in July, 2023 and by Reps. Mike Levin (CA-49) and Mary Peltola (AK-At Large) in March, 2024 to address plastic pollution in our nation’s waterways and along our coasts. to solve this issue once and for all. 

The Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act requires the EPA to finalize a rule within 60 days to:

  • Prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets or other pre-production plastic materials from facilities and sources that make, use, package, or transport those materials; and;
  • Update all existing permits and standards of performance to reflect those prohibitions.

The Surfrider Foundation encourages our members and supporters to contact their federal elected officials and urge them to support the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act (S.2337/HR 7634).

Sadly plastic pellets are just one of the many "effluent limitation guidelines" that the EPA is failing to adequately regulate. In addition to having no limitations on plastic pellets, other pollutants the EPA has set limits on were established decades ago based on the available technology at the time.

Of the 59 industrial categories regulated, EPA last revised 39 of them over 30 years ago, and 17 of them haven’t been revised since the 1970s. This means that for those categories, wastewater treatment technology is stuck in the era of landline telephones, video cassette recorders (VCRs), and pixelated video games. Learn more about Surfrider's broader work to get the EPA to get with the times and update their effluent limitation guidelines here.