Petition the International Maritime Organization to Stop Plastic Pellet Pollution at Sea

Petition the International Maritime Organization to Stop Plastic Pellet Pollution at Sea

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Environmental Investigation Agency started this petition to International Maritime Organization (IMO)

In May 2021, the MV X-Press Pearl spilt 1,680 tonnes of plastic pellets and 9,700 tonnes of other plastics nine miles off the Sri Lankan coast. With plastic accumulating on beaches up to 2 meters high, it is one of the worst environmental disasters in the country's history, and the single largest plastic pellet pollution event the world has ever seen. It continues to cause overwhelming economic, social and environmental impacts, and a legacy of toxic pollution that will continue to have profound and enduring impacts for many generations to come.

This incident has resulted in the severe pollution of 750 km of pristine, biodiverse coastline and deaths of many hundreds of charismatic marine species such as turtles, whales and dolphins. Consumption of fish, which is the main protein source for more than 40% of Sri Lankans, has reduced drastically, and the livelihood of fishers is severely impacted due to coastal fishing ban across the entire West coast.

Plastic pellets (also known as 'nurdles') are tiny lentil-sized balls measuring 5mm or less. They are the feedstock of the industry - and are melted and moulded by manufacturing companies into plastic products. Given their small size, they are easily and often spilt at each stage along the pellet supply chain, and increasingly large scale spillage events are occurring at sea.

However, despite being found on almost every coastline surveyed, and with growing evidence that pellets act as toxic sponges and are eaten by a wide range of marine life, they are currently not considered to be persistent, hazardous, pollutants. Stricter classification under the International Maritime Organization would mean pellets are handled at sea akin to other harmful and hazardous substances. This classification would mean far stricter handling and labelling instructions are enforced, below deck stowage and adequate disaster response protocols that would limit the fallout felt in Sri Lanka in the wake of future shipping disasters.

From November 22nd - November 25th, the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee will meet. On the agenda is a proposal from Sri Lanka to establish international guidelines and requirements for the transportation of plastic pellets that are so urgently needed.

A show of public support in advance of this meeting will be enormously helpful towards securing such measures, and raising the profile of this little-known but highly destructive form of plastic pollution.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!