Operation Clean Sweep preventing pellet loss

Plastic Pellets in the Environment


Pellet Loss—Its Impact and Its Management

In recent years and with increasing frequency, researchers have reported that seabirds, turtles and fish are ingesting a wide variety of plastic items, including pellets, flakes, and powder that could affect their ability to breathe, swallow or digest foods properly. Most of these plastics are used in consumer products (e.g., bottles, caps, containers) that have been carelessly discarded. Some of this litter is comprised of resin pellets, flakes, and powder that enter the waste stream and can end up in the ocean and our natural environment. When pellets, flakes, or powder is accidentally eaten by wildlife they cannot be passed through their digestive tracts, which could lead to malnutrition or even starvation. The impacts of ingested marine debris can be significant and warrant efforts to prevent plastic materials from entering the environment.

While consumers are responsible for the proper recycling and disposal of consumer products and packaging, the plastics industry must focus on proper containment of plastic pellets, flakes, and powder. We must prevent this material from getting from getting into waterways that eventually lead to the sea.

All employees in every aspect of the industry must be educated on how to properly handle and dispose of plastic pellets, flakes, and powder with the goal of zero pellet, flake, and powder loss.

» PDF Version: Operation Clean Sweep Program Manual

The OCS Program

Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) began an education effort in 1991 to reduce pellet, flake, and powder loss by resin producers. A number of public service materials under the name of Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) were developed and disseminated to companies nationwide. The message was simple: Resin pellets, flakes, and powder should be contained, reclaimed and/or disposed of properly. It’s now time to refocus our industry on this problem and to expand the OCS initiative to solve it.

The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and PLASTICS are working together on a revitalized OCS program to strengthen efforts to educate and change behavior in the plastics industry with a goal of zero pellet, flake, and powder loss. ACC and PLASTICS are strongly committed to this effort and are encouraging plastics companies to participate in the OCS program, which includes the practices and tools outlined in this manual. In addition, ACC and PLASTICS are encouraging companies to sign onto the Declaration for Solutions to Marine Litter, of which the OCS program is a key element. Only by working globally can industry help to affect the introduction of resin pellets, flakes, and powder into the environment.

How You Can Help

Each segment of the industry – whether resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators, plastics processors, and plastics recyclers – has a role to play in eliminating resin pellet, flake, and powder loss. It’s the little things that count. A handful of resin here and there can add up when you consider the thousands of facilities in the industry and the frequency with which resin pellets are loaded and unloaded.

Commitment by everyone in every company, from top management to the shop floor employees, is essential to achieving zero pellet, flake, and powder loss.

Zero pellet, flake, and powder loss is good for the environment. It’s good for business – pellet loss represents a source of revenue loss. And, in many jurisdictions, there are separate legal or permit requirements addressing pellet loss.

With your help and cooperation, we can make great strides to help our industry protect the environment. ACC and PLASTICS look forward to working with you on Operation Clean Sweep to accomplish this important goal.