Mermaids’ tears


A Marine Litter campaign

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Mermaids’ tears

The campaign

Our mermaids’ tears campaign calls on plastic product manufacturers to take the “Pledge to Prevent Resin Pellet Loss”.

Mermaids’ tears, also known as resin pellets or nurdles, are used in the manufacturing of plastic products. We identified these plastic pellets as a major source of pollution on UK beaches, and our undercover work in plastic factories identified a route from plastic factories to the beach, via the storm drains.  Watch the campaign investigation here.

We are calling on the plastics industry to handle plastic pellets, known as nurdles or mermaid’s tears in the marine environment, as responsibly as possible to ensure are kept out of the natural environment including waterways and oceans wherever possible. We urge companies to safeguard this raw material to improve efficiency and minimize waste and reduce their environmental footprint.

We are calling on all UK plastics factories that use these pellets in the manufacturing process to adopt and implement Operation Clean Sweep to minimize pellet waste impacting the marine environment and harming wildlife. We also believes that participating companies can make financial savings on raw materials and enhance their reputation as good stewards of the environment — an increasingly important factor for attracting the investment community and high-quality employees.

We aim to sign up UK plastic factories to the Operation Clean Sweep protocol, devised to minimize or eliminate plastic pellet loss, to safeguard the marine and wider environment. Download the Operation Clean Sweep document.

Our Marine Litter Report outlines our calls for a 50% reduction in marine litter by 2020 and the need to stop marine litter at source.  The report includes a calls for a Operation Clean Sweep to become mandatory for all resin pellet users.

Get involved

How can you help with this campaign…

  • Attend an SAS beach clean near you and see how many nurdles are on the tideline.

Campaign timeline

Key campaign dates


SAS release covert film exposing polluting factories

With UK beaches covered in billions of Mermaids’ tears SAS investigated the source of the problem.  Covert filming exposed  obscene amounts of resin pellets on factory floors waiting to be washed down storm drains.


SAS Mermaids visit British Plastics Federation

SAS campaigners filled a 500ml bottle with mermaids’ tears (and counted them) and together with SAS mermaids presented the bottle at a British Plastics Federation conference.


Campaign Victory!

SAS persuade the British Plastic Federation to adopt Operation Clean Sweep (plastic pellet lose prevention protocol)


80% of British Plastic Federation members signed up to Operation Clean Sweep

Plastic factories continue to adopt the Operation Clean Sweep manual and protect against pellet lose.


SAS call for OCS to become mandatory in plastic factories

The SAS Marine Litter Report is published calling for the Operation Clean Sweep manual to become a mandatory requirement in factories using mermaids’ tears.