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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.

Three interlinked work packages

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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 polyesters 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 plastic in circulation – A day about plastic & recycling

2019-12-11. STEPS researcher Anna Svantesson gave a presentation at Malmö University on the use of packaging in the daily trade industry in Sweden. Other talks included presentations from Sysav and Packbridge. The event was organised by students at Malmö University to highlight the complexity of plastics. Read more here.

BIld av Gerald Simon från Pixabay

STEPS researchers: All measures to address the plastics problem will fall flat if we ignore increased production

2019-11-14. The price of some recycled plastics is now higher than for new virgin plastics. Meanwhile, plastics production is set to double in the next twenty years. As long as we are not focusing on the root cause of the problem: increased production, measures to address the plastics problem will fall flat say researchers at Lund University. Read the full article here and download the scientific paper here.

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Collaboration for Sustainability – How to Move Forward

2019-11-06. STEPS researcher Baozhong Zhang, Associate professor at Department of Chemistry, Lund University, participated in a discussion with academic and non-academic actors on how to create good win-win relationships and collaboration across borders that enable the progress towards sustainability. He spoke about STEPS collaboration with industry partners Bona, Perstorp and Nordic Sugar in the development of the demoproduct, StepOn, a floor coating made out of sugar.
The seminar was part of Talk: Sustainability, a seminar series addressing future challenges connected to the global goals for sustainable development.

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So should investors think about plastic – STEPS research gives recommendations for sustainable investments

2019-10-28. Plastic companies which does not have a strategy for how to break their dependence on fossil fuels can be a risk for investors. Therefore investors need to make demands and ask questions about how the company’s plastic is produced, designed, packaged and how it can be recycled. So reads some of the recommendations in a new report from STEPS, Lund University, and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, directed at financial investors. The aim of the report is to make it easier for the financial sector to make sustainable investments. Read the full article here and download the report here.

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What does the future of plastic look like?

2019-10-14. Plastic waste is a growing problem around the world, despite efforts to recycle or reduce plastic use. In order to really transform the recycling process, more attention needs to be paid to the composition of plastic, according to a new research article from STEPS and Lund University. The paper presents strategies on how to improve recyclability through the smarter design of polymers – and how bio-based polymers could shift to carbon neutral alternatives. Read more here and download the scientific paper here.

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