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.

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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.


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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.


Plastics and sustainable investments

2018-12-12. STEPS meets leading Swedish fund managers Öhman and Lannebo to discuss plastics and sustainable investments at Mistra. The event was organised by Mistra. The aim of the meeting is to gain increased understanding about how investors work and which type of research results and information are useful for supporting sustainable investments related to plastics. Examples of issues discussed are how climate risks are handled in investment strategies, reflections on stranded assets and divesting.


Study visit at MAXIV

2018-12-04. STEPS industrial and academic partners engaged in a study visit at MAXIV . Interesting to discover how this World-leding synchrotron facility is developing and which research opportunities are there related to bioplastics.


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.