National Nurdle (mermaid tear) Clean-up Competition

National Nurdle Clean-up Competition

Big prizes up for grabs in the national nurdle (mermaid tear) clean-up competition!

Following the resurgence of plastic nurdle pollution across South African beaches, Litter4Tokens – in partnership with Lifesaving South Africa, and the Centre of Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) – have launched the Litter4Tokens Nurdle SA Clean-Up Competition, running from September 2021 through to February 2023.

Collection drums, sponsored by DRUMPAL, will be located at identified lifesaving clubs along the South African coastline, from Cape Town to KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal. People can use the drums to dispose of nurdles (also referred to as ‘mermaid’s tears’), with prizes awarded to both the lifesaving club as well as the individual that collects the most nurdles during the eight-month stretch. It’s important that the drums are used, as nurdles cannot be placed in recycling bins.

The NPO and two-time Stevie Award-winner, Litter4Tokens, was founded by Clare Swithenbank-Bowman, the CEO of Nurdle SA. It’s an educational and clean-up campaign that addresses the devastating impact of nurdles on marine life as well as feeding the nation.

The competition, which will run alongside Litter4Token’s ongoing projects, has been launched in response to the catastrophic spill of trillions of plastic nurdles by Vinmar Polymers America – Vinmar Polymers America and ExxonMobil in August 2020 off the coast of Plettenburg Bay, as well as the 2017 spill in Durban Harbour and continued dumping by manufacturers upstream in rivers systems.

Nurdles are lentil-sized plastic pellets made of polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, among others. These pellets are shipped, shrink-wrapped in 25 kg bags on pallet bases to factories around the world that melt them down to form plastic products. They are not considered hazardous as per the OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) Hazard Communication Standard and IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) code.

This microplastic is hugely detrimental to marine ecosystems and humans, as they quickly find their way into the food system leading to ulceration, starvation and death. They do not biodegrade and a recent discovery indicated that nurdles follow the same ocean currents as turtles, making them particularly hazardous for these species.

“To put this in perspective, in 2017 we had a freak storm that resulted in two containers with trillions of nurdles falling overboard,” explained Swithenbank-Bowman. “This resulted in 2.2 billion nurdles being spilt in the Durban Harbour from Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic). These washed up along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline from Ballito to the KZN South Coast. Only 67% percent of that spill has been cleaned to date.”

Swithenbank-Bowman said that, in addition to this spill, there was another spill of more than 174.5 metric tons in August 2020 off Plettenberg Bay, and there has been illegal dumping of nurdles by manufacturers upstream in rivers, with nurdles washing up on beaches in eThekwini region. To date, only 12.6% of these nurdles have been retrieved.

In light of this, and with recent reports indicating that there will be more waste plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, Litter4Tokens is calling on everyone to get involved to change the trajectory of this devastating path. Education is key, and it’s vital that people understand what nurdles are and why they’re so devastating to the environment.

“Litter4Tokens has also presented to the International Maritime Organisation to help get the nurdles’ code changed to a hazardous IMDG code with immediate effect,” said Swithenbank-Bowman. “The ocean is the earth’s life force, and if we don’t get on top of this plastic crisis now, the ocean is literally going to choke. It’s now or never.”

How to enter the Litter4Tokens Nurdle SA Clean-Up Competition

Litter4Tokens has developed the innovative Mermaid Tear Catcher (MTC), a scooping device with holes specifically demarcated allowing the user to sieve the nurdles out of the dry sea or river sand. It is made from ocean-bound plastic, and all funds raised from the sales go towards the Litter4Tokens kiosks in South Africa, thereby creating a perfect, circular economy. The MTC can be ordered online at and, when not used for collecting nurdles, it doubles as a frisbee!

The DRUMPAL drums will include sponsor branding as well as clear instructions on how to collect the nurdles. Once participants have made their collection, they must take a photo and upload it to Record Your Nurdle Catch | Litter4Tokens, alongside the unique MTC code (if you have bought one), the geographic location, or the name of the lifesaving club. There will be monthly winners for the most Nurdles collected. The drums will be located at:

Milnerton Surf Lifesaving Club
Loxton road
Woodbridge Island
Scottburgh Surf Lifesaving Club
Pavilion 1
Marine Terrace – Scottburgh Main Beach
Scottburgh 4180
Woodridge Surf Lifesaving Club
084 545 4089
17 Meeu Street
Cape St Francis

Umtamvuna Surf Lifesaving Club
14 Lilypond Lane
Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club
Battery Beach Rd
Durban Central
Mzamba Surf Lifesaving Club
Wild Coast Casino,
Water Wave Park,
Lifeguards Room

Westbrook Beach
North Beach Road, Westbrook
Casuarinia Beach
Casuarina Road, Genazzano, Westbrook
La Mercy Recreational area
South Beach Road, La Mercy

eMdloti south at the ski boat club
North Beach Road, Umdloti
uMhlanga Rocks Surf lifesaving club ( Grannies Pool)
16 Lagoon Dr, Umhlanga
Eastmoor Crescent car park
Umhlanga Rocks, Umhlanga

Virginia Car Park
Beachwood, Durban North
Beachwood carpark
Beachwood, Durban North

The drums will be sent to Spilltech once they are full, the nurdles will be analysed and then be collected by CRDC, where they will be converted into RESIN8 cement used to make bricks to build houses. The data collected will be sent to FIDRA, the Global Nurdle Foundation in Scotland which runs The Great Nurdle Hunt dedicated to tackling nurdle pollution. There will be monthly winners announced from May 2021 to January 2023, with the final data collated at the end and an overall winner announced.

What you could win

  • The winning SA Lifesaving Club will receive R10 000 in prize money.
  • Individuals can win R10 000 worth of vouchers from Hurricane Surf; a Jacki Bruniquel photography course, ‘The Art of Being Through Seeing’, valued at more than R5 000; free yoga lessons for a month with Helen Garner; and FITKIT vouchers for new yoga gym wear.
  • Win two nights (standard accommodation) for two people at The Cavern Resort & Spa. Named after the infamous Cannibal Cavern, the resort is nestled in the foothills of the northern Drakensberg in the Amphitheatre World Heritage Site area. The prize includes all meals, teas and guided morning hikes, valued at R6 400 and also a 2 night for 2 in superior accommodation including all meals, teas and guided morning hikes – value: R8080. More prizes are still to be announced!
  • R2000 dinner vouchers at Zimbali

Become part of the solution through your sponsorship or partnership . Simply email for more information. To find out more about the exciting work being done by Litter4Tokens, or to order a Mermaid Tear Catcher, visit

Ts&Cs apply: The competition is open to anyone collecting Mermaid Tears, Nurdles and we shall be posting and emailing prizes and vouchers. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash. All entry requirements must be followed otherwise you will be disqualified. A winner will be chosen randomly combining entries from the data collected on the website, Facebook and Instagram entries, and the decision is final. Competition closes on 10th January 2022. Winners will be notified at the end of each month via Facebook and Instagram and emailed directly.

Read our full POPIA competition clause on our website: https://www.litter4tokens/competition-policy/

By entering this competition, you hereby declare your understanding of the aforementioned information and consent to the processing of your information in accordance with the Act.


  1. Litter4tokens, Mermaid Tear Catcher, Nurdle SA with its head offices located at, Ballito, KZN, is collecting this information as part of your entry into our competition and it will be used for this purpose only and disposed of thereafter.
  2. This information is given to us by you voluntarily and of your own free will.
  3. If you do not wish to provide us with this information, are unable to do so, or object to it being used, we will be unable to process your entry.
  4. We may share this information with third parties who are partnered with us in this initiative, for purposes relating to the competition only.
  5. You have the right to access this information while in our possession and make corrections if necessary.
  6. You also have the right to lodge a complaint via email with the office of the Information Regulator, at, if you are unhappy with the manner in which we deal with your information.
  7. By entering this competition, you hereby declare your understanding of the aforementioned information and consent to the processing of your information in accordance with the Act.
  8. We will use our best endeavours and take all reasonable precautions to ensure that any information provided, is only used for the purposes it has been provided.