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20 November 2015

High quality of applications to new programmes

Mistra’s calls for the programmes ‘Plastic in a Sustainable Society’ and ‘Mistra Closing the Loop II’ have now come to an end. The applications are currently being evaluated and decisions are expected to be announced before Christmas.

‘We’re very pleased with the project and programme proposals that have come in,’ says Christopher Folkeson Welch, Programmes Director at Mistra.

At Mistra, intensive evaluation work is now in progress. Applications received for the new ’Plastic in a Sustainable Society’ programme and for the second phase of the ‘Mistra Closing the Loop’ programme are being scrutinised. This work is being done by two expert groups, and their task is to draw up documentation for the Board’s decisions. The recipients of millions of kronor to realise their ideas will be made known before Christmas.

The fact that Mistra chose to start a programme about plastic is hardly surprising. It is a material that is both cheap and easy to make, and can be used for virtually everything. Unfortunately, it has at least as many disadvantages, especially from the environmental and resource points of view. This is not least because today it costs less to manufacture new plastic than to reuse discarded products. One aim of the programme is therefore to develop methods that make both production and use more sustainable.

Wide-ranging proposals on sustainable plastic

By the time the call closed in September, three applications had come in. One of them is from a group hosted by Lund University whose focus is on developing new processes for producing plastic. They also aim to investigate new raw materials and look at user attitudes towards both new and traditional variants of the material.

Another application came from SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. With their business partners, they seek to investigate scope for developing renewable plastic, but also to explore resource efficiency and health aspects.

A third application comes from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Innventia. Their vision is plastic from forest raw materials and other biomass. The group also includes some industrial partners, and this demonstrates a major commitment on the part of the Swedish plastics industry.

An expert group is now to evaluate the applications. The research group that wins the Board’s confidence as host for the programme will receive a budget totalling SEK 60 million: SEK 45m from Mistra and the rest from the other parties involved in the application.

Many want to close the loop

The ‘Mistra Closing the Loop’ programme has a different structure. It is an ongoing initiative that has been in its initial phase since 2012. Here, the overarching programme is more administrative in nature and comprises seven individual research projects. In the new, second phase, SEK 38 million is now to be distributed among a number of new projects.

Like the previous projects, what these have in common is that they set out to develop new knowledge and boost collaboration among different stakeholders in order to devise methods of making industrial waste a useful resource, and doing so in an efficient and sustainable way. Moreover, Mistra Closing the Loop II will receive SEK 2 million for the whole programme’s communication activities and collaboration among individual projects.

A total of 13 applications have been received. The research questions addressed by the proposals range from the best way of disposing of vehicle waste to recycling of phosphorus.

‘One project is about how we should dispose of used solar cells. Although these are a product that has only recently been launched on the market, we’re already having to think about how to recycle them,’ says Christopher Folkeson Welch.

He is very pleased with the applications received to date for Mistra Closing the Loop II. In general, they are of a higher standard than the applications submitted for the first phase of the programme.

‘Normally, we award between five and eight million kronor to each project. This means that an estimated six of the 13 groups that have submitted applications will get good news in December.’

Text: Per Westergård, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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