Volunteers target plastic at beaches

Volunteers devoted hours cleaning up our beaches. Photo Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ).

Eighty people volunteered on Sunday in the last of four beach clean-ups around the Tamaki Estuary.

Half the volunteers sat down on the job, because they were using tweezers to remove microplastics from the beach.

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) and the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum (TEEF) organised the clean-up to remove litter, microplastics and nurdles from the shoreline.

Nurdles are litter from the plastics manufacturing industry. Lentil-sized resin pellets called nurdles are melted down to form consumer plastic products. But they are washing up on shores around the Tamaki Estuary and TEEF wants them gone.

“Little Bucklands Beach looks pretty clean, until you focus on the small stuff along the high tide line” says Beth Evans, initiator of the TEEF Nurdle Project.  “Volunteers have been shocked at the number of nurdles they are finding” says Beth.

“Nurdles float and look like food to wildlife” says TEEF co-chair Julie Chambers.  “We can all do our bit to keep plastic out of the environment by disposing of it properly and using less, but sadly, consumers don’t have any control over nurdles”.

TEEF is trying different technologies to help clean-up the nurdles and other microplastics.

“So far we’ve tried tweezers, sieves, a wheelie bin converted into a filter and last week a prototype aqua drone” says Julie.

TEEF is seeking to work with industry, businesses, Auckland Council and local communities to clean-up the Tamaki Estuary and to stop further contamination.