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STEPS – Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways

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.

STEPS WEBINAR SERIES presents 

Transition Pathways to Sustainable Plastics

6, 7 and 8 October 2020, 15:00-16:30 CET, online livestreaming

What are the pathways to a future where Plastics are sustainably produced, used and recycled in a circular economy? Welcome to a webinar series highlighting ways forward to accelerate a sustainable transition, focusing on governance, plastic design and green Building blocks.
More information about the webinars here.
Register to the webinars here.
A collaboration between designer Kajsa Willner and STEPS 

Materiality & Aggregation

09.09.2020 – 27.09.2020

Opening: 9 September 2020, 17:00 at Form/Design Center in Malmö

The exhibition Materiality & Aggregation is a multidisciplinary collaboration between design and academic research. It has its starting point in five proposed pathways for how to face society’s major sustainability challenges related to plastics, described in STEPS discussion brief.
The five pathways – reduce use, recycle more, fewer types, biobased plastics and biodegradable plastics – are interpreted separately in the exhibition but all together they will be crucial in the  transition towards a more sustainable plastic future.
More information about the exhibition here.
Read about the exhibition in Sydsvenskan (7 September 2020).
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STEPS Phase 2 has started!

2020-09-17. STEPS has now officially started phase two of the research programme! The second phase runs from 1 September 2020 to 31st December 2024.
– We are delighted to go on to a second phase, especially now when there is real need for intensifying research and development to facilitate transition to a more sustainable plastic system. We are also happy to welcome many new and old partners to our programme, says Professor Rajni Hatti-Kaul, Programme Director, and researcher at Biotechnology at Lund University. Read further on the highlights section.

Photograph: Kennet Ruona

Malmö designer shows the way: This is how plastic can be used in the future

2020-09-07. Increased recycling, more bio-based plastic and fewer types. These are some of the pathways required for our plastic consumption to be more sustainable, according to STEPS researchers policy brief. Designer Kajsa Willner has taken on the task of interpreting these pathways in the exhibition Materiality & Aggregation at Form/Design Center in Malmö. Read about STEPS collaboration with designer Kajsa Willner in the this article in Sydsvenskan. 

Read also about the collaboration on Lund University’s homepage.

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New plastic tax underway?

2020-08-11. A tax aimed to reduce the disposable use of mugs, cutlery and lunch boxes made of plastic: it is proposed in a new inquiry that has been handed over to the Swedish government. But how effective is it to use taxes as a tool to change people’s consumption habits? Listen to STEPS researcher Fredric Bauer in the radio interview in P1.

Read also researchers’ comments on plastic tax proposition on Lund University’s homepage

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New authority is needed to achieve a circular economy in Sweden

2020-07-17. The restart after the corona crisis is an opportunity to create a more sustainable society. The Swedish government should establish a new authority with responsibility for resource efficiency and circularity, writes program directors for several Mistra programs in a debate article in DN today. Read the full article in Dagens Nyheter.

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Utsläpp från industrin blir plast

2020-06-25. Bara ett luftslott? Nej, det går faktiskt att göra plast av luft  – eller snarare av koldioxid. Plasten i dina skor eller möbler kan i framtiden kanske tillverkas med hjälp av en avgasreningsteknik som nu utvecklas vid Lunds universitet. Läs hela artikeln på Lunds universitets hemsida.

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Strategising Plastic Governance: a policy brief

2020-06-25. STEPS researchers has recently published a policy brief focusing on upstream aspects of plastic production directly related to downstream aspects, such as marine pollution and waste accumulation. Read and download the brief 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).