Application of failure mode and effects analysis to reduce microplastic emissions

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A complete understanding of the occurrence of microplastics and the methods to eliminate their sources is an urgent necessity to minimize the pollution caused by microplastics. The use of plastics in any form releases microplastics to the environment. Existing policy instruments are insufficient to address microplastics pollution and regulatory measures have focussed only on the microbeads and single-use plastics. Fees on the use of plastic products may possibly reduce their usage, but effective management of plastic products at their end-of-life is lacking. Therefore, in this study, the microplastic-failure mode and effect analysis (MP-FMEA) methodology, which is a semi-qualitative approach capable of identifying the causes and proposing solutions for the issue of microplastics pollution, has been proposed. The innovative feature of MP-FMEA is that it has a pre-defined failure mode, that is, the release of microplastics to air, water and soil (depending on the process) or the occurrence of microplastics in the final product. Moreover, a theoretical recycling plant case study was used to demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of this method. The results revealed that MP-FMEA is an easy and heuristic technique to understand the failure-effect-causes and solutions for reduction of microplastics and can be applied by researchers working in different domains apart from those relating to microplastics. Future studies can include the evaluation of the use of MP-FMEA methodology along with quantitative methods for effective reduction in the release of microplastics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-753
JournalWaste Management & Research
Issue number5
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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