Holistic metrology: Explainer

Measuring up to the challenge of plastic recycling: the importance of holistic metrology for circular plastics.

To move towards a circular economy, we need to increase the yield and quality of recycling processes. Adoption of a holistic metrology approach is essential to do this.

Written by: Nigel Visser | Updated: /03/2023
Reviewed by: Floris Gerritsen | Published: /03/2023

Holistic metrology is a method of measurement that takes into account the entire system and all of its variables rather than just one isolated aspect. In plastic recycling, this means looking at not just the composition of the plastic itself but also the conditions under which it is processed, the available technologies, and the end-use applications. By considering all of these factors together, it is possible to make more informed decisions about how to recycle plastic waste best.

Plastic waste is a major global concern and a pressing challenge for the sustainability of our planet. Despite numerous efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated, it continues to accumulate in landfills, oceans, and ecosystems, causing widespread environmental damage. To tackle this problem and move towards a circular economy, where waste is reduced, reused, and recycled, we need to increase the yield and quality of recycling processes. To achieve this, a key aspect of the solution is the adoption of a holistic metrology approach.

Metrology is the science of measurement and its application in industry and commerce. By using precision measurements and instruments, it is possible to ensure that the recycling process is efficient, accurate, and sustainable. Holistic metrology takes this approach a step further, integrating all aspects of the recycling process into a comprehensive system that ensures the highest quality end product. This includes measurements of material properties, such as composition, size, and weight, as well as measurements of process parameters, such as temperature, pressure, and flow rate. By incorporating these measurements into a holistic approach, it is possible to optimise the recycling process and produce high-quality recycled plastic with minimal waste.

There are several key reasons why a holistic metrology approach is so important for plastic recycling. Firstly, it helps to ensure that the recycled plastic is high quality and suitable for its intended end-use. This is because by considering all of the variables, it is possible to identify and address any potential issues that impact the quality of the recycled material.

Another important benefit of holistic metrology is that it helps to optimise the recycling process itselfBy considering the conditions under which the plastic is processed and the available technologies, it is possible to identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods for recycling. This, in turn, helps to reduce the costs of recycling and make the recycling process iselft a more sustainable and economically viable option. In addition to these benefits, holistic metrology also helps to support the development of new technologies and techniques for plastic recycling. By considering the entire system, it is possible to identify areas where improvements can be made and to explore new and innovative ways of recycling plastic waste.

There are several key applications of holistic metrology in plastic recycling, including:

The intended end-use of recycled plastic is also an important factor to consider in the recycling process. Holistic metrology takes into account the specific requirements of the end-use application, such as strength and durability, to ensure that the recycled plastic is suitable for its intended purpose.

Despite the many benefits of holistic metrology, several challenges must be overcome to realise its potential fully. One of the biggest challenges is the need for accurate and reliable measurement techniques. This requires the development of new and innovative technologies, as well as the investment in research and development to improve existing measurement methods.

Another challenge is the need for standardisation in the plastic recycling industry. With so many different types of plastic and so many variables to consider, it can be difficult to ensure that the same measurements are taken consistently across different recycling facilities. To address this issue, it is important to develop and implement standardised protocols for plastic recycling that are based on holistic metrology principles.

Finally, there is the challenge of making the results of holistic metrology more accessible and actionable. To maximise the benefits of this approach, it is important to develop tools and systems that can be used to collect and analyse data from different recycling facilities. This will allow the industry to identify best practices and to improve the quality and efficiency of plastic recycling continuously.

In conclusion, holistic metrology is an essential approach for plastic recycling that offers numerous benefits and provides a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the recycling process. By taking into account all of the variables that impact the quality of the recycled material and the efficiency of the recycling process, it is possible to make more informed decisions and to improve the plastic recycling industry continuously. While there are challenges that must be overcome to realise the potential of holistic metrology fully, the benefits make it a critical component of any strategy to reduce plastic pollution and promote sustainability.