BSI to create standard for management of plastic pellets

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has announced a new project to create the first specification for the management of plastic pellets, flakes and powders to prevent pollution caused by this form of plastic.

The new standardization document is set to be known as ‘Publicly Available Specification 510 (PAS 510)'. The new specification on handling and management throughout the supply chain of plastic pellets, flakes and powders to prevent their leakage to the environment will provide a way for companies to demonstrate good practice in preventing plastic pellet loss throughout their supply chain.

Plastic nurdles on the beach
Plastic pellets – often known as ‘nurdles’ – are pre-production forms of plastic that are used in the manufacture of new plastic products. When leaked into the environment these tiny plastics pose a hazard to wildlife if ingested and contribute to microplastics pollution.

Tackling marine plastic pollution has become one of the main environmental issues in recent years, with an estimated 8-12 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year, leading to new legislation and policy across the world to limit plastic pollution, including the EU’s Single-Use Plastic Directive and the UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

BSI’s new specification is being designed to be used by all organisations in the plastics supply chain involved in using, processing, handling, storing or transporting plastic pellets, flakes and powders. The standard will set out measures to prevent the leakage of these plastics and demonstrate procedures for continual improvement.

This will build on the existing programme coordinated by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) called Operation Clean Sweep, which offers comprehensive guidance and tools to prevent plastic pellets loss in the supply chain.

The new standard will be developed by a steering group led by experts from across the international supply chain and will be sponsored by Marine Scotland, the BPF and a number of investors through The Investor Forum, including Allianz Global Investors, the Environment Agency Pension Fund and Brewin Dolphin, represented by Fauna and flora International (FFI).

David Fatscher, Head of Environment, Social and Governance Standards at BSI, said: “Plastic pollution is a complex global issue that requires urgent collaboration and action between governments and the corporate sector to help stop pellets making their way into the ocean each year; PAS 510 is a landmark step in the right direction. We are working with a range of experts to agree best practice to prevent the leakage of plastic pellets into the environment.” 

BPF Sustainability Executive Adela Putinelu commented: “The development of the PAS provides a unique opportunity for companies to verify and demonstrate compliance with pellet loss prevention measures. As the loss of valuable raw material along the supply chain has serious environmental and economic consequences, the plastics industry is taking a proactive approach to successfully mitigate this risk.”

Hazel Akester, Marine Plastics Programme Officer at FFI, added: “Plastic pellets are estimated to be the second largest source of direct microplastic pollution entering the ocean, where they can have severe impacts on a wide range of species, including fish (which provide critical protein to billions of people) and seabirds, such as puffins. We are pleased to be part of this crucial initiative bringing together experts from industry, government and the non-profit sector to develop a globally applicable standard that can be used by all stages of the plastic supply chain to address this preventable source of plastic pollution.”

The new standard is expected to be published in July 2021. You can find out more about BSI standards on the BSI website.

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