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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.

Södra’s work with renewable forest material 

2020-04-16 Mats Wallin is a Senior Specialist in Science Relations at Södra Skogsägarna. In this interview, he shares his views on plastics, a circular economy, and the challenges of working with hybrid materials. He also highlights how Södra works with sustainability, and how they use their production side streamsRead more here.

Meher Sanku, researcher at Lund University,

Meher Sanku turns air into plastics

2020-04-16 Meher Sanku, researcher at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Lund University, has just defended her PhD thesis. Her work focuses on how to capture and utilise carbon dioxide – to create new building blocks for plastics. She is a researcher in STEPS work package one, which focuses on production of polyester building blocks from renewable feedstocks, including surplus biomass streams and carbon dioxide. Read more here.

Mahmoud Sayed, researcher at Lund University.

From sugar to plastic building blocks: interview with Mahmoud Sayed

2020-04-16 Mahmoud Sayed came from Egypt in 2014 to do his PhD at the Division of Biotechnology at Lund University. He is active in STEPS work package one which has focus on the sustainable production of polymer building blocks from renewable feedstocks including surplus biomass streams and carbon dioxide using biological and chemical processes separately or as integrated processes. Read more here.

Mistra plast

STEPS contributes to new Mistra book about plastics

2020-04-16 Several researchers from STEPS have contributed to a new book about plastics commissioned by Mistra. The aim of the book is to increase knowledge about plastics, and highlight positive and negative impacts of the material on our environment and society. Read more here.

BIld av Reimund Bertrams från Pixabay

CANCELLED: Plastics in a Swedish Circular Economy – STEPS seminar

Welcome to a seminar with representatives from the research programmes Mistra STEPS – Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways and Mistra REES – Resource-Efficient and Effective Solutions  about the history, background, possibilities and challenges with a circular economy. Read more here.


Materiality and Aggregation – STEPS plastic exhibition

2020-03-06. Welcome to the launch of the exhibition ‘Materiality & Aggregation’ – a collaboration between designer Kajsa Willner, the research programme Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways, STEPS, and Form/Design Center. It departs from STEPS’ research on ways forward to a sustainable plastic society, and is an interpretation of five plastic pathways. Read more here.

Ellen Palm

Due to the connection between plastics and climate change, we do not want to produce more plastics

2020-03-06. Ellen Palm is a PhD candidate at Environmental and Energy Systems Studies at Lund University, and active in work package three. It aims to assess potential transition pathways to develop research-based advice on policy and industrial strategies for sustainability in the longer term. Ellen Palm’s research focuses on issues of sustainability pathways connected to plastic. Read more here.

Bild av Matthew Gollop från Pixabay

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.

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