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Extensive loss of pellets at sea remains without sanctions

Plastic Soup Foundation organizes a pellet count in the Netherlands

Amsterdam, 28 January 2019 – At the start of this month freighter MSC Zoe lost at least 292 containers, some of which were filled with pellets. Pellets, also called nurdles and no more than 5 millimeters big, are used to make plastic products. The beach of Schiermonnikoog was covered with millions of these plastic granules. Because they can have a huge ecological impact on the fragile nature of the mudflats, the University of Groningen is investigating where they ended up. Contrary to larger pieces of plastic, these pellets can barely be cleaned up.

Unfortunately, the loss of the millions of pellets on the Wadden Sea wasn’t an exception. In October 2017 nurdles from two cargo ships entered the ocean near the South African harbor town of Durban, after which a massive amount washed ashore. Furthermore, a recent Danish report shows that an extraordinary number of pellets were found in the environment around Danish plastic factories – the royal warrant holders of Lego. In May 2018 around 450.000 pellets were found on just one beach in Scotland; twelve miles from the Ineos Polymers factory where they are produced. And in 2016 English consultant Eunomia calculated that up to 53 billion plastic pellets are lost and end up in the environment in the United Kingdom alone.

It is not surprising that pellet loss is considered to be one of the major causes of the plastic soup. Yet there is no national or international organization monitoring it. Because this has actually been a known problem for a long time, plastic manufacturers have voluntarily united in Operation Clean Sweep (OCS). By its own account, this industrial initiative applies the best possible practices to prevent pellets from ending up in the ocean. But basically, the industry has free rein and is never fined or confronted. The past 25 years the OCS has also never had to publicly show their accountability. MacKerron, vice president of the American NGO As You Sow: “Operation Clean Sweep provides no transparency on the scope and nature of spills or efforts made to clean up. Given what we know about the alarming rates of plastic leakage into oceans, companies can no longer hide behind vague pledges of best practices. They need to provide prompt and detailed disclosure about specific actions taken to prevent spills, and when spills occur, information on spill size, and actions taken to clean up.”

As You Sow has called to account the American pellet manufacturers Chevron, DowDupont, ExxonMobil and Philips 66 during shareholders’ meetings, and have demanded the creation of at least yearly reports that map the spills, describe which measures have been taken and how the spills were cleaned up.

It is extremely important to gather evidence, so we can enforce measures that lead to the industry taking care of transport without pellet loss. Where and in what concentrations are the pellets found on coastlines and shores? Everyone can simply help build this data with a smartphone, whether alone or in a group. The Great Global Nurdle Hunt takes place between Friday 8 and Sunday 17 February.

With that in mind The Plastic Soup Foundation will organize various pellet counts in the Netherlands that week, at new and still secret hot spot locations in places such as Zeeland and Limburg. Join us and sign up by e-mailing michielp@plasticsoupfoundation.org. You will then receive more information on dates, times and locations.

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The ultimate plastic diet to reduce your plastic footprint

Amsterdam, 17 January 2019 – We all consume too much plastic. Literally. There is plastic in the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air we breathe. Unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is that when plastic enters our body it can make us sick. The chemicals in plastic and plastic particles may cause cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, arthritis, impotency and even harm babies in the womb.

According to the EU, each year an average European citizen creates about 31 kgs. of single-use plastic waste. The current overconsumption of plastic must be reduced — not by banning all plastics, but by going on a ‘plastic diet’. We all need to go on a ‘plastic diet’: companies, retailers, governments, and individuals alike. For this reason, the Plastic Soup Foundation has developed the Ultimate Plastic Diet.

A sustainable alternative to plastic bags for fruits and vegetables.

The diet revolves around tackling the concerns about plastic affecting human health, avoiding leakage of plastic into the environment and aiming for absolute reduction of plastic production.

But, how does it work? We have divided the ‘plastic diet’ into six different areas: bathroom, kitchen, travel, leisure, household and garden. In each of these categories there are a list of avoidable plastics as well as an alternative to them. This diet is for everybody who wants to make a difference in their plastic consumption, from the absolute beginners to the eco-heads out there.

We understand that a strict plastic diet is very difficult and impractical to follow. Everyday plastics like those found in your car, your phone, or your laptop are unavoidable. This diet provides you with tools to make a difference, starting with reducing the single-use plastics in your daily life. We do not advise you to throw away the long-term use plastic items you have around your household because they can last for long; but we do advise you to always ask yourself one question whenever you want to buy something new: is there a plastic-free alternative for this?

That’s why we want to make this diet easy, by walking hand in hand with you to help you reduce your overall plastic footprint. One item at a time.

Are you ready to accept the challenge of a plastic-free diet?

ViS Detachering

“ViS Detachering” will be a new Silver Business Angel of the Plastic Soup Foundation

Team ViS Detachering

Amsterdam, November 1, 2018 – As of January 1, 2019 ViS Detachering from Reeuwijk will become a Silver Business Angel of the Plastic Soup Foundation. Gijs van Ierssel, founder of ViS Detachering, spoke about the decision to support our organization: “Sustainability is our top priority. We want to leave a better world for our children. For example, we promote driving electric automobiles, we do not serve water from plastic bottles, all our business gifts come from sustainable materials and we separate our waste. For us, becoming a Business Angel with the Plastic Soup Foundation is a logical next step. The polluted seas and oceans are impacting everyone, and the Plastic Soup Foundation tackles the problem at its sources. I also feel the urge to help as a fanatic water sports enthusiast and a fan of the sea.”

The Plastic Soup Foundation is extremely happy to have ViS onboard as a Business Angel in the new year and we are looking forward to a long and prosperous collaboration.

Race against Tides for the Plastic Soup Foundation

Every year, 5,000 runners from all over the world line up for the start of the Marathon du Mont Saint-Michel in France. This marathon takes place along the coast of the French tidal island Mont Saint-Michel, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The route to the island is submerged at certain times, making the run even more spectacular. Tiphaine Bresse from Apeldoorn must have thought this is the perfect location to draw attention to plastic pollution worldwide. As she has decided to donate her sponsorship money to our organsation!

Tiphaine Bresse: “I am French, I was born in a town close to Mont Saint Michel, that is why I have chosen to run my first marathon at this splendid location. I think plastic soup is a very important issue and I very much want to make people aware about it.”

On 27 May 2018, Tiphaine will run her first marathon at Mont Saint Michel for the Plastic Soup Foundation. You can sponsor her too.

“The marathon race will be the culmination of six months of training with lots of ups and downs. A lot a blood, sweat and tears, not to mention countless blisters, but it has been worth every step for the good cause!”

Read her interview in De Stentor (in Dutch).

The Plastic Soup Foundation wishes Tiphaine every success with this magnificent challenge and thanks her for her sporting initiative!



From Marseille soap to refillable deo sticks

Amsterdam, 23 March 2018 – The European Commission’s brand new Plastic Strategy published earlier this year contains steps that must be taken to avoid unnecessary packaging waste and especially single-use products. Personal care products are part of these. Every bathroom is full of plastic containers that are only used once. Most lotions, creams and shampoos are packaged in plastic. Against our better judgement, the question of how to avoid personal care packaging is rarely asked.

Why should soap be wrapped in plastic? The traditional Savon de Marseille shows us that soap does not have to be packaged. The desired amount of shampoo could be tapped from a refill unit in refillable containers that can be used again and again. The brand Loveli has found an elegant solution for the deodorant stick. With conventional deodorant sticks, you simply use the deodorant to disguise any sweaty odours and then throw away the plastic container with its twisting mechanism, while these could easily be reused. Loveli solves this problem by selling reusable deodorant sticks and separate refills packed in paper. Take the refill out of the paper and put it into the stick. Press down and use. Repeat until the plastic container breaks and count how many containers you have saved.

The natural personal care brand Loveli was founded in 2016. It’s founder, Lind Bot, guarantees 100% natural body care. None of her products contain chemicals or microplastics. Loveli has applied for the Beat the Microbead’s Look for the Zero logo.

Also read: Ban on microbeads in UK, Italy and New Zealand


Celebrating Women in Ocean Conservation and Marine Milieu

‘His’tory is the witness that it is a good example of the contributions and achievements of women to our society. In the field of art and literature, or scientific developments, or finding the Truth about the universe and human existence itself. Women around the world has their resilience to change what is needed to change our society and our environment for an inclusive place for the peaceful co-existence of all life forms.  

Today we want to take the occasion of ‘International Women’s Day’ as an opportunity to celebrate women who have played a role in the marine environment and ocean conservation. We want to celebrate the women whose ground-breaking work has a difference today. From marine biologists and marine advocates to community developers and artists who inspire us every single day. We want to thank them and let them know that the world would be a loss without them.  

These are just a few names from a rather exhaustive list – some from the past, some from the present -all ridiculously inspiring! 

Rachel Carson, 1907-1964: Marine biologist, author, conservationist. 

Rachel Carson was a naturally author-turned conservationist in the 1950s. Her writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Many of her works address ocean life. Carson also helped raise concern on synthetic pesticides and inspired by the US Environmental Protection Agency. She was a courageous woman who left behind a hell or legacy!  




Dr.  Sylvia Earle: Marine biologist, explorer, author, lecturer.  

Dr. Earle was named the first Hero for the Planet in 1998 by the Time Magazine, the same year in which she achieved explorer-in-residence status with National Geographic. Earle was additionally the first female chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She is the Founder of Mission Blue, known as “Hope Spots” around the globe. And today, she has given hope and motivation to countless marine conservation organizations to keep fighting for the oceans! 



Isatou Ceesay: Environmentalist.   

Like many girls in Gambia, Isatou Ceesay was forced to drop out of school at a young age – today she is known as the “Queen of Recycling in The Gambia”. The social obstacles of her life did not make her oblivious to the environmental challenges she saw around her. So, in 1997 Ceesay founded Njau Recycling and Income Generation Group, a project that has spent over 2,000 participants across the Gambia. The story has been turned into a children’s book called ‘One Plastic Bag’. She is changing the world around her one kid and one plastic bag at a time! 

Kristin Marhaver: Coral biologist. 

Based in Curaçao, marine biologist Kristen Marhaver studies how corals reproduce and what their young ones need in order to survive on today’s reefs. It is an urgent task as a corals struggle against pollution, overfishing and a changing climate. Marhaver’s research team was recently able to harvest spawn and brittle the Caribbean pillar coral, which until now worried scientists had stopped reproducing. Her work is essential in keeping healthy corals in order for us to have healthy oceans! 

Great Bubble Barrier: Inventors.

All over the world, rivers bring large quantities of plastic to the sea. Now there is a method to prevent the plastic from actually ending up in the oceans; a big dream made possible by the young founders of  The Great Bubble Barrier . Francis Zoet, Anne Marieke Eveleens, and Saskia Studer are looking to capture plastic at the same time. They have succeeded in giving us motivation and hope that we can still do something, that it is not too late! 

Dr. Heather Leslie: Researcher.

Dr. Leslie is currently a senior researcher at the Department of Environment and Health, Free University, Amsterdam. She is an expert in environment chemistry and toxicology. Her research work in the identification of (micro) plastics in water bodies, fish, marine invertebrates and human beings. Her work and immense knowledge is essential to the Work at the Plastic Soup Foundation! 

Dirty Beach: Artists.

Dirty Beach is a creative collaboration between artists Chloe Hanks and Lou McCurdy. This fun duo creates contemporary, provocative and witty work that reacts to the issue of plastic pollution and throwaway culture. From initial exhibiting individual works under the name “Dirty Beach, the artists developed and immersive installation concept. Their installation shows a supermarket stocked entirely with recovered trash; a plastic filled supermarket. Their confrontational installation has been around in multiple European cites like Antwerp, London and Amsterdam, in hope to provoke people to bend their ways. We are delighted to help them spread the word, their partnership is a valuable asset for us!


Last but not least, we want to celebrate our own Ocean Warrior! 

Maria Westerbos 

Maria is the founder-director of the Plastic Soup Foundation. She is educated in the social sciences, specializing in mass communication and psychology. She has worked in the media for 25 years, print and TV, and as a strategist and television program developer. She founded Plastic Soup Foundation in 2011 and led the successful worldwide campaign against microbeads: Beat the Microbead in 2012. In 2013 she was among the Top 100 most sustainable people in the Netherlands. Since then, she is working non-stop to achieve the mission “no plastic waste in our waters”, a mantra that drives us every single day to work alongside her. We are proud to be a personal army to save our oceans from plastic pollution! 


Ocean conservation uses knowledge and expertise from different walks of life. We are grateful today that we could celebrate the scientists, researchers, advocates, artists and change makers who make the task of ocean conservation easier and who also happen to be women! #Womenfortheoceans