Europe's largest clean-up of nurdles



Chessel Bay, Southampton, is one of, if not the worst, hit areas for plastic pollution in the UK and desperately needs a good clean. There are nurdles EVERYWHERE, the impact on the environment is devastating.

We conducted a trial clean during Autumn 2021, which was successful. Even though we did make an impact, if we wanted to make a real difference, we would need to keep returning and clean for longer.

Chessel Bay Nature Reserve

Chessel Bay is a thin strip of native UK woodland based on the banks of the Itchen Estuary, Southampton UK.

It’s location is on the outside bend of a large meander in the river, meaning that it collects a large amount of debris; both natural and man made. Which has meant it has become one of the worst locations for pre-production pellet pollution.

Why has this been happening?

There are several plastic manufacturers near the Itchen Estuary that were mismanaging the nurdle pellets, leading to vast quantities being spilt into the environment.  Chessel Bay is upstream to the factories, so the nurdles have been washed ashore.

The factories have been forced to stop polluting, so it’s worth noting this is legacy pollution that we’re clearing before it heads out to sea.

What are we doing about it?

Throughout January to April, our team is returned to the nature reserve for 5 days at a time, with our custom made equipment and a fantastic group of volunteers. We are tackled Chessel Bay’s microplastic pollution problem head-on and by removing up to 1200 litres of nurdles each day.


During our 2023 cleans, We have made a huge difference reducing Chessel Bay’s microplastic problem!
With our fantastic team of volunteers, we have removed over 234,000,000 pieces of microplastic from the nature reserve. This video shows the huge difference we have made to the environment.

While it is impossible to remove every single pellet, we have removed over 90% of the pollution in some areas of the bay. Southampton University is doing ongoing research on plant regrowth rates in the areas that we have removed the microplastic from. Hopefully we will see a huge difference to Chessel Bay’s environment in the upcoming months/years.

We are planning to return again in early Spring 2024.