Nurdle Patrol Expands to the Mississippi River


The Mississippi River is one of the nation’s most important commercial waterways, enabling the transportation of approximately 175 million tons of freight every year. Included in this massive tonnage of cargo are nurdles. It is estimated 250,000 tons of nurdles pollute waterways around the world each year, often during the manufacturing and transportation process. Therefore, it stands to reason large commercial rivers are at high risk for nurdle pollution. At Nurdle Patrol we wonder, is the Mississippi one of those rivers?

This summer Lisa Scobel, a graduate student studying Environmental Conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is seeking to help us answer this question. Lisa is focusing on recruiting partner organizations along the Mississippi River’s 2,350-mile stretch. From Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, organizations are being enlisted to help with data collection efforts. As the summer progresses and partners join the Nurdle Patrol team, we hope to see more data points populate our Map along the Mississippi River, which will allow us to develop a clearer picture of the area.

The partnerships established this summer will aid not only in data collection but will also be crucial in generating awareness and educating the public about nurdle pollution. This expansion effort is the first of many, allowing Nurdle Patrol to grow our data repository within the continental U.S. From there, our goal is to continue expanding, reduce nurdle pollution through cleanup initiatives, and utilize data collected to aid in the development of plastic specific policy across the nation. Our partners and citizen scientists are key in helping us achieve this goal and protecting our rivers and oceans from nurdles.

Are you an organization interested in becoming a partner with Nurdle Patrol and aiding in our expansion efforts? Let us know! Contact us at jace@utexas.edu.

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About the author: Lisa Scobel is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is pursuing a master’s in Environmental Conservation. A native of the Gulf Coast, Lisa is devoted to protecting coastal ecosystems and is passionate about reducing plastic pollution. Currently, Lisa is focused on expanding Nurdle Patrol by generating new partnerships and promoting data collection efforts.