STEPS is a research program with a vision of a future society where plastics are sustainably produced, used and recycled
STEPS goal is to facilitate this transition by sharing innovation, knowledge and findings between academia, industry and society. STEPS partners include Lund University, Swedish Agricultural University, Swerea IVF, and 18 industrial partners and County council of Scania county of Sweden representing the entire value chains in a sustainable plastics system.
STEPS is looking for sustainable solutions throughout the value chain from renewable feedstock, conversion and design to post-consumer plastic waste handling. STEPS concept is to design sustainable plastics with desired material properties and life-cycle by matching suitable carbon-neutral building blocks.
WP1 has focus on production of polyester building blocks from renewable feedstocks including surplus biomass streams and carbon dioxide. Importance is given to issues such as feedstock security, and clean and cost-efficient process technologies for transformation and product recovery.
WP2 combines suitable bio-based building blocks from WP1 to produce “drop-in” as well as novel poly-esters that will be characterized and evaluated for target applications such as fibres, coatings, packaging and films. Modified natural polymers are also evaluated as components in plastic formualtions. Key features of the polyesters would be improved barrier properties and thermal stability, recyclability or complete biodegradability.
WP3 has the main task to assess potential transition pathways to develop research-based advice on policy and industrial strategies for sustainability in the longer term. Governance and policy implications for a circular plastics economy are addressed, including social dimensions and the roles and responsibilities of key actors.
Joint Forces for Sustainability Forum
2019-03-21. STEPS researcher Tobias Nielsen presented the five potential pathways to a sustainable plastics system at Joint Forces for Sustainability Forum. Read more here.
Science and Innovation Talk at Tetra Pak
2019-03-08. Listen to STEPS researcher Tobias Nielsen, Political Science, Lund University, talking about Pathways to Sustainable Plastics at Tetra Paks Science and Innovation Talk! Five pathways to more sustainable plastics are discussed: bio-based, biodegradable, recycling, fewer types and reduced use.
Founders of Tomorrow
2019-02-24. Lars J Nilsson presented the 1.5 °C challenge based on the recent IPCC report and decarbonisation pathways for industry including plastics and steel at the Founders of Tomorrow Impact bootcamp and idea competition. Read more here.
Opinion piece in NyTeknik
2019-02-20. ”Banning straws and plastic bags is not enough, we need a vision for the entire plastic use”
– writes STEPS researchers Fredric Bauer, Tobias Nielsen and professor Lars J Nilsson in NyTeknik.
Read the article here.
New STEPS paper published!
2019-02-19. Need a bag? A review of public policies on plastic carrier bags – Where, how and to what effect? by researchers Tobias Nielsen, Karl Holmberg and Johannes Stripple can be downloaded here.
2019-02-06. I december blev Sveriges plastutredning färdig. Och på EU-nivå finns en ny plaststrategi med bla direktiv om ett förbud mot engångsartiklar som sugrör, bestick och tallrikar. Ett bra ramverk men plastdebatten måste nyanseras. Det menar statsvetaren Tobias Nielsen som ingår i ett forskningsprogram om hållbar plastanvändning. Läs mer
European Biopolymer Summit
2019-02-13. ACI’s European Biopolymer Summit 2019 will bring together senior executives and experts from biopolymers’ manufacturers, chemical companies, and consultants, to discuss the latest changes, challenges and developments within the industry. More information and registration here.
The fight against plastic pollution has only just begun
2018-12-22. STEPS researchers from Lund University publish ”Kampen mod plastik er kun lige begyndt” in the Danish Politiken (p. 6, 2018-12-22). They write about the new EU directive on single use plastics and the fight against plastic pollution in the oceans and on our beaches. Read the full article here.
Pathways to sustainable plastics
Five pathways to more sustainable plastics are proposed: bio-based, biodegradable, recycling, fewer types and less use. The pathways are complementing rather than competing, although the balance between pathways in a transition cannot be detailed in advance. Technology development, institutional changes and human behaviour will create new opportunities and problems along the way.