STEPS latest news

Lars J Nilsson

Professor Lars J Nilsson chosen for top EU climate position

2022-04-01One of the 15 appointed experts of the new European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, that will independently review the EU’s climate work and provide advice on appropriate climate measures and goals, is Lars J Nilsson, professor of Environmental and Energy Systems at Lund University: In Mistra STEPS he is the work package leader for Governing the transition towards a sustainable plastic system.

“I am excited to start this work. We will advise on climate measures that are implemented by the EU and the climate goals that are set”, says Lars J Nilsson, who primarily will contribute with his expertise on the decarbonization of the basics materials industry.”

The new council is a consequence of EU legislation, which stipulates that an independent climate science council must be established.

Read more: Lund professor chosen for top EU climate position | Lund University
New European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change appointed — European Environment Agency (

Annual Report 2021_ cover simulation

Read about STEPS achievements during 2021!

2022-03-30. The report contains messages from our board and management, interviews with researchers and industry partners, our publications and selected highlights and media coverage.

“The year 2021 will be remembered in history as a period when the world was in the grip of Covid-19 pandemic for the second year, resulting in the loss of many precious lives, but also in the development of the vaccines made available at an extraordinary pace. A proof of human ingenuity and resilience! One would have thought that the plastic pollution issue, although having been discussed for several years, would end up in the back seat, but the European Commission followed up on the Single-Use Plastics Directive passed in 2019, to ban several commonly found plastic items in the European coastal areas. And earlier this year, a legally binding global treaty to end plastic pollution was agreed upon by 175 nations.”

Read the annual report here.


Oil companies are ploughing money into fossil-fuelled plastics production at a record rate – new research

2021-11-03. The biggest international plastic and chemical companies are struggling as the rest of the industry shifts. Instead of green investments in recycling and bio-based plastics, new investments are being made to expand fossil-based activities. This according to new research that have mapped the companies’ rate of expansion over the past decade. The article “Plastic dinosaurs – Digging deep into the accelerating carbon lock-in of plastics” by Fredric Bauer and Germain Fontenit is published in the journal Energy Policy. Download the article at

Read a popular science text discussing the issue published in The Conversation.

Read the press release.

STEPS Rapport R4_Cover_low res

STEPS public opinion survey on plastics policies shows high support for stricter regulation on plastic

2021-09-27. STEPS researchers have conducted a survey on how the Swedish people view various regulations of plastic. The interviewees had to take a stand on a mixture of 18 proposals – which included everything from “soft” encouraging measures, and instruments based on financial incentives to more regulatory and far-reaching measures.

The main takeaway from the survey is that policy makers should not be afraid to regulate plastics – since there is a broad support for addressing the challenges that arise with the use of this material.

A report has been produced based on the survey: The future of plastics? Swedish public opinion on plastics policies. It is written by Karl Holmberg, Sara Persson and Johannes Stripple.

Read the report and the recommendations from the researchers.

Read the press release.

Karl Holmberg2021

”I find plastics fascinating”

2021-07-02. In autumn 2020, Karl Holmberg started his PhD research in STEPS. He has already co-authored a number of research articles, together with STEPS researchers, focusing on the relationship between plastics and politics, and plastics in art. In his PhD, he will investigate plastics and its wider role in society.

 – I want to dig deeper into our everyday culture but also economic and political interests and how it relates to plastic use. We cannot solve the issues of plastics with technological improvements alone, but we need to also work on behavior, expectations and influences in society for us to achieve a sustainable transition of the sector.

 Read the interview here. 


“Additive manufacturing is the future – but we have to change our mindsets”

2021-07-02. Satabdee Dash recently started her PhD in work package two. A love for machines, airplanes and design brought her from India to Germany, Stockholm, and finally to Lund – where she is researching on development of tools and methodologies for DfAM, otherwise referred to as design for additive manufacturing.

Read the interview here.

Oliver Englund Örn

“I have freedom to develop my own ideas – in using biotechnology to create plastic monomers”

2021-07-02. Oliver Englund Örn always knew he wanted to do a PhD in biotechnology. The biggest pull was the freedom to develop his own ideas, and his own critical thinking.

Today, he is four years into his research on how to produce sustainable aromatic building blocks for plastics, in STEPS work package one.

– I like the complexity of biotechnology. You can do so much with it. That really excites me. There is a lot that needs to happen to create a monomer from a single cell!

Read the interview here.

“We are part of STEPS as part of our effort to secure sugar beet production in Sweden.”

2021-07-02. Nordic Sugar has been part of the STEPS since 2016. They are part of Nordzucker Group – one of the world’s larger producers of sugar from beet and cane.

– Sugar beet has the potential to be a very good feedstock for plastics. It has a very high yield compared to other crops and the leakage of nitrat to the environment is very low, says John P Jensen, working in QIPS (Quality, Innovation & Production Support) at Nordic Sugar.

For him, being part of STEPS, offers many benefits for the company. One of them is of course the knowledge exchange between the researchers and the partners. Another is the opportunity to monitor how sugar potentially can be utilized as a sustainable feedstock in the future.

Read the interview here.

Ellen Lindblad_Project leader_Sysav Utveckling AB

“We want to highlight the last step in the plastics chain.”

2021-07-02. Sysav has been part of STEPS since the programme started in 2016. Sysav stands for Sydskåne’s waste company and is owned by 14 Scanian municipalities. In 2020, Sysav received and treated a total of 825,000 tonnes of waste.

– All plastics ends up with us in the end. But we are not always visible in the discussions about plastics. Being part of STEPS gives us the opportunity to be involved and influence, says Ellen Lindblad, project manager at Sysav Utveckling.

Read the interview here. 


It is in our DNA to work with environmental issues

2021-06-18. Jonas Ihreborn AB is a Swedish furniture company with its own production in Värnamo, Småland. The company is run by Jonas Ihreborn – third generation furniture manufacturer – and produces timeless furniture with a long duration for a sustainable future. Since 2020, the company is part of STEPS.

– Ever since I was young, I have been interested in environmental issues. In the 70’s when I was growing up it was very dirty and polluted which made me want to contribute and make a difference. Being part of STEPS is part of this.

Read the interview here.


Read about STEPS achievements during 2020!

2021-03-31. The report contains messages from our board and management, interviews with researchers and industry partners, our publications and selected highlights and media coverage.

“Our continuation as a research programme comes at a time when research on plastics and its impacts on society, is more important than ever. In the second phase, our ambition is to intensify academia-industry cooperation to generate knowledge and to co-develop and evaluate carbon-neutral plastic products for specific target-applications, with an inherent consideration for circular economy.”

Read the annual report here.