How many nurdles does it take?

December 24, 2019
number of nurdles to make plastic grocery bag

Ever wondered how many plastic pellets (nurdles) it takes to make every day house hold products? Well, we sat down with a scale to find out. These numbers are not exact due to various factors, but they give us a good estimate for how many nurdles it takes to make certain items. Some of the factors that make this not exact are that most of the nurdles we used for this are low density polyethylene (PE) found on shorelines. Some of the items we were weighing were made of polypropylene or PET, which have slightly different densities that PE. Other factors are that depending on where the nurdles come from, the shape and size can vary. Different products have different manufacturers that make the items different ways, such as thicker bottles or bags, which makes estimating on a general scale very difficult. Finally, since the nurdles we were using were found in the environment, densities could have changed due to chemical absorption or degradation of the pellet. With all that said, we believe these numbers are fairly close to how many nurdles it takes.

Here’s our list:

⁃ Soda water bottle, 1,005 nurdles ⁃ Toothbrush, 665 nurdles ⁃ Small grocery bag, 174 nurdles ⁃ Produce bag, 86 nurdles ⁃ Quart size ziplock bag, 314 nurdles ⁃ Soda water bottle cap, 95 nurdles ⁃ Contact case, 307 nurdles ⁃ Yogurt cup, 357 nurdles.

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About the author: Jace Tunnell is the director of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. Jace coordinates the citizen science project as Nurdle Patrol, works with partners to further habitat protection and education of estuaries, and promotes conservation of natural places.