A pilot project in a plastic manufacturing facility looked at the effectiveness of the LittaTrap™ in capturing pre-production plastic pellets.



Plastic Manufacturing

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There is increasing awareness of the impact of plastic on marine and freshwater ecosystems. Plastic manufacturers are joining Zero Pellet Loss initiatives like Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), a global initiative designed to prevent and help keep plastic litter materials out of the environment.  

To meet the objectives of OCS, a toolbox of approaches is needed. Catch basin inserts are a low-cost solution that prevents contaminants from entering the stormwater system.

Plastic pellets often referred to as nurdles, are a primary input to the manufacturing process of all plastic and plastic-containing materials. Plastic pellets are challenging to manage because of their size and density.  

EnviroPod™, in collaboration with the University of Toronto's Trash Team, Encompass Consultancy, and a plastic manufacturing facility, undertook an 8-month pilot project looking at the effectiveness of a catch basin insert (The EnviroPod™ LittaTrap™) in trapping pre-production pellets in an operating facility in Ontario, Canada.  



Five EnviroPod™ LittaTraps™ were fitted with a pellet performance liner and were monitored from February to November 2020. The monitoring did not occur over the winter months as it was not possible to gain access to the catch basins over this period. The five catch basins were fitted with a LittaTrap™ and monitored over 289 days Four catch basins along the western side of the facility were fitted with LittaTrap’s (LT1, LT2, LT3, and LT4). This area contains a truck entrance and offloading zone. The fifth LittaTrap™ was installed in a catch basin proximal to a railway material handling zone. Here pellets are offloaded from rail carts using a vacuum hose.

Site plan of the pilot facility in Ontario

The standard LittaTrap™ captures gross pollutants, 5mm and larger. The pellet liner used for this project has an aperture size of 1mm.

Sampling and Pellet Subsampling

Counting all plastic pellets would be resource intensive and as part of this work, we developed a methodology for sub-sampling. This methodology allows for rapid semi-quantitative analysis of high quantities of pellets. Subsampling is an appropriate means of reducing the time taken to count pellets within an acceptable margin of error

Pellet sampling and sub-sampling procedure


A total of 34,766 plastic pellets were captured in 289 days. Extrapolating to a full year, it is estimated that 43,900 pellets could be expected from such a facility.

Download the full case study at the top of the page or find out more about LittaTrap and how it can be used on any manufacturing site, talk to one of our expert team.