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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

What a Wonderful Plastic World

by William Benckert

A music arrangement using only plastic created by William Benckert for the 100 year celebration of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).

CAETS 2019: Engineering a better world – the next 100 years

2019-07-05. Listen to STEPS programme director Rajni-Hatti Kaul talking about sustainable transitions for plastics at the The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) 100-years celebration in Stockholm, 26 June.


Climate Change – What can we do?

2019-07-01. Two degrees more and de-carbonisation transitions was the topic for the seminar Climate Change – What can we do? held  in Lund on 27 June for a delegation of FP-AP, the european association of former members of parliament of the member states of the Council of Europe. WP leader Lars J Nilsson talked about STEPS in his contribution Zero Emissions: What do we have to work with?


Fully-recyclable plastic packages by 2020?

2019-06-24. STEPS Master student Anna Svantesson presents her work on the Swedish Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry target of fully-recyclable plastic packaging by 2022, at Sysav today. Read more here.


Plastics ReDesigned: new collaboration with Form/Design Center

2019-06-19. Designers have a key role in the transition to a sustainable plastics society. But too often they have limited knowledge of plastics as a material, and are unsure of how to use it. STEPS and Form/Design Center in Malmö have come together to start a new collaboration to increase knowledge, highlight research, and to encourage new and creative design approaches. Read more.


STEPS researchers discuss plastics challenges in podcasts from Trifilon

2019-06-14. How can the government make plastic production sustainable? And what is the process of making plastics from sugar beet? These are some of the questions discussed in two podcasts featuring STEPS researchers, Tobias Nielsen, political sicentist, and Niklas Warlin, Phd student at the Department of Chemistry at Lund University. Read more here.

Crops or Carbon Dioxide? What is the Future of Plastics?

2019-03-09. Listen to researchers from Lund University and RISE exploring the possibilites of using residues from agriculture, or even carbon dioxide, to produce plastics in way that avoids food insecurity and negative climate impacts in the future. The event is organised by STEPS and is part of Lund Sustainability Week 2019.

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.
Read more.

STEPS Annual Report 2016-17

2018-03-31. STEPS annual report for Year 1.
Download here.