Debris ID: Shotgun Shells and Wads

This week’s debris item is actually two–shotgun shells and wads! These two types of trash are discharged from a shotgun when fired, and are associated with sport hunting. Shotgun wads are almost impossible for hunters to retrieve, as they can land 30-50 yards away from the hunter. Their light color makes them difficult to see in the sand, but once you find one, you’ll start seeing them everywhere. Shells stay in the shotgun and can be disposed of by the hunter, so they are usually less common on Humboldt beaches. Their bright color makes them easier to spot. You can input shotgun wads and shells under the “Fishing/mariculture/hunting” category on the Marine Debris Tracker App. If you find shotgun waste, the best place to dispose of it is in the trash as the wads and shells are not recyclable.

Shotgun waste is a big source of plastic pollution, and can seem maddeningly difficult to tackle. However, there are some hopeful signs that the industry is becoming more conscious of it’s environmental impact: A Virginia company called GreenOps Ammo has started making shotgun shells with biodegradable wads! If you have hunters in your life, let them know about this exciting development–if GreenOps Ammo becomes a popular brand, hopefully more will follow.