Plastic Pellet, Flake and Powder 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 that are killing them or affecting their health. Most of these plastics are used consumer products (e.g. bottles, caps, containers, etc.) that have been carelessly discarded. Some of this litter is resin pellets, flakes and powder that entered the waste stream and the oceans. When these pellets, flakes and powder are eaten by wildlife they cannot be passed through their digestive tracts, leading to malnutrition and starvation.

While consumers are responsible for the proper disposal of the products they use, the plastics industry must focus on proper containment of the products we use – plastic pellets, flakes and powder, the basic raw material of our industry. We must prevent the pellets, flakes and powder 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.

The Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) Program

Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) began an education effort twelve years ago to reduce pellet loss. A number of public service materials under the name of Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) were disseminated to companies throughout the country. The message was simple: Resin pellets 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 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 2015 the term ‘flakes and powder’ were added to the program to enable resin recyclers to also take the pledge. The goal being zero pellet, flake and powder loss.

How You Can Help

Each segment of the industry, including resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators, recyclers and plastics processors, has a role to play in eliminating resin pellet, flake and powder loss. It’s the little things that count. A few pellets, flakes and powder here. A handful there. They all add up when you consider the thousands of facilities in the industry and the many times resin is handled.

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

Pellet, flake and powder containment is good for the environment. It’s good for business. And, it’s the law.

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


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One of the greatest benefits was that most of what we did was easy and inexpensive to implement. Now our shop is cleaner, safer and more efficient.