STEPS – Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways

STEPS is a research programme with a vision of a future society in which plastics are sustainably developed, produced, used and recycled in a circular economy.

Our partners include Lund University, University of Copenhagen, RISE IVF, IVL, 21 industrial partners and the County Council of Scania.

Our work on sustainable plastics is divided into three areas, and is based on close collaboration between researchers and industry: green building blocks, bio-based polymers, and plastic governance.

During our existence as a programme, we have:

– Designed novel biobased monomers that have been made into polymers.

– Produced two plastics demonstrators: a floor coating and textile fibres with superior qualities and low climate impact.

– Made an overview and analysis of the plastic governance system.

STEPS is coordinated by Lund University, and funded by by Mistra, The Swedish foundation for strategic environmental research.

Recently published articles and reports from STEPS

Stuck in plastic: carbon lock-ins make the transition difficult
Read a popular science version in English
Read a popular science in Swedish at
Read the article at

Oil companies are ploughing money into fossil-fuelled plastics production at a record rate – new research
Download the article at
Read a popular science text discussing the issue published in The Conversation.
Read a popular science version at in Swedish

STEPS researchers co-write EEA report on plastics, and integrates STEPS pathways
Read the press release in Swedish at

Read the report:  Plastics, the circular economy and Europe’s Environment,

STEPS public opinion survey on plastics policies shows high support for stricter regulation on plastic
Read the report and the recommendations from the researchers.

Related News on Sustainable Plastics

Effekter av plastpåsskatten: mindre plast – mer papper, visar en studie från Naturvårdsverket.
Lär mer på

UN member states agreed on the adoption of a mandate for an International Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop a legally binding UN Treaty on plastic pollution.
Read the story on

Ocean plastic pollution to quadruple by 2050 says newey published report commissioned by WWF.
Read here the report “Impacts of pastic polution on the oceans on marine species, biodiversity and ecosystems”.

Total Corbion PLA has launched the world’s first commercially available chemically recycled bioplastics product
Read the press release through this link.

IKEA fokuserar på pappersbaserat
Läs mer i artikeln via denna länk till


Stuck in plastic: carbon lock-ins make the transition difficult

2022-10-26. The plastic industry is strongly dependent on fossil fuels throughout the plastic value chain, with large environmental impact and growing carbon dioxide emissions as a result. This is shown in a new research synthesis by STEPS researchers. Nevertheless, policymakers and industry mostly suggest one sided or insufficient initiatives. But with the right efforts, the plastic system can become sustainable, believes Fredric Bauer, who is one of the authors.

Read more: Stuck in plastic: carbon lock-ins make the transition difficult

Photo of a man, PhD Karl Holmberg. Photo.

Karl Holmberg presents STEPS at Naturvårdsverkets Plastdag

2022-09-29. Karl Holmberg, PhD in political science, presented th STEPS research programme at Naturvårdsverkets seminar about recent research in plastics: Vad är på gång inom plastforskningen

Researchers and industry from all of Sweden presented research and innovation within sustainable plastics.

Watch the presentations from Plastdagen on Youtube

Photo Lars Mortensen

Important to link plastic to climate change

2022-04-30. I was very honoured to join the board of MISTRA STEPS in 2021. I have followed the programme for some time and think it is a leading research project in the EU on sustainable and circular plastics.

With my background as an economist and working at the European Environmental Agency, EEA, the policy relevant pathways aspects of the programme are closest to me. In this area, I can help with advice and EU and global perspectives on the plastics agenda. I also value a lot the parts of the programme that I know in less detail and learn a lot from – mainly the chemical and technical aspects of plastics and its lifecycle.

Read the full interview here.

Omar Abdulaziz_cropped

With love for the complex lignin molecule

2022-04-30. A curiosity for working on renewable energy sources was a driver for Omar Abdelaziz when he had the chance to work with this during his studies in his home country Egypt. Although Egypt is an oil-driven society, relying mostly on fossil energy sources, there are initiatives to find more sustainable solutions. He looked for positions as a PhD focusing on biorefineries and moved to Lund in 2015.

Read the full interview here.

A man in a laboratory. Tam Nguyen. Photo.
I hope to see my ideas and work for sustainable solutions considered in the real world

2022-04-30. Tam Nguyen has a strong motivation in his work, coming from Vietnam – a country that is producing a lot of plastic waste and being part of the young generation that understands the need to find new solutions. He looked for opportunities in a developed country and the choice happened to be Sweden, first Stockholm and KTH for his Masters in Macromolecular materials and then Lund University for his PhD.

Read the full interview here.

A city pictured. Visby in Gotland. Photo.

Är mindre plaster lösningen – STEPS i Almedalen den 4 juli

2022-06-28. Den 4 juli deltar Mistra STEPS tillsammans med Mistra REES vid Mistras träffpunkt och seminarium för att diskutera vad företagen, användarna och experter tycker om hur vi ska minska den negativa påverkan av plaster. Kan mindre antal plaster vara en lösning?
Läs mer här.

Mattias Lindahl, Professor, Mistra REES och Linköpings universitet; Åsa Stenmarck, Materialflödesexpert, Naturvårdsverket; Jenny Fagerland, Projektledare, SIS – Svenska institutet för standarder; Leif Nilsson, Expert, Arla Plast; Karl Holmberg, Doktorand, Mistra Steps och Lunds universitet

Seminarium: Är mindre antal plaster en lösning? Vad tycker företagen, användarna och experter?
Dag och tid: Måndagen den 4 juli kl. 15.00-15.30
Plats: St Hansgatan 11, Gamla Riksbanken, Visby


Photo: iStock


10 November 2022, 9:30-16:35, Copenhagen
Conference arranged by Søren Hvilsted, STEPS board member. Register to the conference here.


STEPS informs – focus on WP2

11 November 2022, 14:00-15:00. Venue Scheele, Chemical Center, Lund University

Individuals Joining Together As Team, Union, Family or Network. These colorful strings symbolize people joining together to form a tightly knit group or institution; bound together in unity of common purpose, and greater than the sum of it's parts.

Symposium: Synthetic biology: scalability, implementation, and governance

14-15 November 2022, Pufendorf institute, Lund

Register to the conference here.

STEPS illustration. Illustration.

STEPS board meeting

16 November 2022, Biskopshuset, Lund

Mistra summerar

Ingen kommer undan plasten

Vägar mot en mer hållbar plastanvändning

Mistra Summerar aims at summarising the research funded by Mistra.
“Ingen kommer undan plasten” is a book describing pathways to a more sutainable use of plastics.
Download and read the book “Ingen kommer undan plasten” here.