State-of-the-art Review – Hazardous Substances in Plastics

Important dates

05 Oct 2022

Date call is made active

16 Nov 2022

Application submission deadline

16 Dec 2022

Expected notification of results

01 Jan 2023

Earliest permitted project start

01 Jan 2023

Latest permitted project start

30 Jun 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates


This call for proposals of up to NOK 2,25 million is designated for one project with a duration of one year. This project shall result in a state-of-the-art review that provides new insights on substances of concern in plastics, including an assessment of regulatory needs to provide policy makers with information that is relevant to policy development, decision making and national, regional and global initiatives.

Norwegian research organisations may apply.

About the call for proposals

The project will result in a state-of-the-art review that provides new insights into substances of concern in plastics. The review must also include an assessment of regulatory needs to provide policy makers with information that is relevant to policy development, decision making and national, regional and global initiatives.

If possible, this assessment should also attempt to prioritise the regulatory needs based on which needs the authors consider most pressing to address. More specifically, the review will be used as a knowledge-base for policy development and to identify measures, including regulations on chemicals and other measures to promote a non-toxic circular economy to reduce the spread of substances of concern in plastics and microplastics.

The review can also provide valuable input for ongoing negotiations of a new global plastics agreement. The results of the review should contribute to highlighting key issues related to hazardous substances in plastics and their distribution to/in the environment, as well as potential risks to human health and the environment.

For the review, all types of plastics/polymers are of interest, but the following should be given priority:

  • plastics in consumer products;
  • plastics in widespread use in society;
  • plastics that are spread to the environment;
  • plastics that are important in the circular economy and/or of particular concern.

Special attention should be given to vulnerable population groups and/or ecosystems, as well as to mixture effects.

In the review you must:

  • identify and describe polymers known to contain substances of concern, including their uses and applications, as well as material- and waste streams containing these polymers/ substances of concern;
  • provide information on substances of concern that are contained in these polymers/ material and waste streams and/or distributed in the environment via plastics without duplicating the efforts of the coming UNEP report on chemicals in plastics;
  • as far as possible, provide information on amounts of substances of concern in plastics, their distribution, and possible consequences for environmental and human exposure;
  • attempt to prioritise different types of plastics and the substances of concern contained in them with respect to the need for regulatory action based on e.g. concentration levels, hazardous properties, information on uses of the plastics/products, leakage/exposure and possible risks to human health and the environment;
  • highlight new and relevant trends in plastic production (e.g. bioplastic and biodegradable plastic) and implications this has with respect to use, spread and exposure to substances of concern.

You should also attempt to identify important differences between polymers/products/material streams of different regional origin.

The state-of-the-art review must be presented as a final report, including a summary for policy makers.

After the project has been finalised, the results may be published in peer reviewed scientific journals and/or as peer reviewed book chapters.

Requirements relating to the project proposal

Applicants must apply an established methodology for systematic searches in databases for research literature, pre-defined criteria for inclusion and exclusion, and solid methods for analysis of the material.

Applicants must demonstrate that in the work with the project, they will have access to relevant capacity and competence, as well as to relevant databases. When assessing the applications, we will put emphasis on the project group's experience from similar projects. Applicants may supplement their own institutional capacity and competence through one or more subcontractors.

Requirements relating to the project group

One research organisation alone is the formal applicant and signs the contract with the Research Council. The other contributing parties are formally subcontractors that can have their expenses covered through invoicing the Project Owner.

The different actors' roles and contributions to the project must be described in the project description, in the Implementation section.

This call for proposals is funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency. In order to secure the policy relevance of the project, the Research Council and the Environment Agency will form an advisory board. The project owner is expected to meet this board at the beginning and during the project period. The meeting schedule is to be agreed on as part of the contract deliberations.

This call for proposals is only available in English. The English version is legally binding.

Who is eligible to apply?

Only approved Norwegian research organisations are formally eligible to apply. See the list of approved Norwegian research organisations.

Relevant experts and/or groups of experts from Norway and/or abroad may contribute to the project group as subcontractors.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

The Project Owner must be an approved Norwegian research organisation. The grant will be administered by the project owner who will have the economic and scientific responsibility for the project.

Requirements relating to the project administrator

The project administrator is the contact person at the project owner and must be employed at the project owner. The Project administrator signs the contract on behalf of the project owner. Please check who is the administrator when developing the grant application.

Requirements relating to the project manager

The project manager must have a PhD degree or similar academic competence.

The project manager must be employed by the Project Owner.

Requirements relating to subcontractors

The Project Owner can engage Norwegian or foreign research organisations and/or industry to different tasks in the project. The competence and capacity of the subcontractors will be evaluated as part of the expert evaluation of the project proposal.

What can you seek funding for?

You may apply for funding to cover actual costs necessary to execute the project. The Project Owner is to obtain information about costs from each project partner. These costs are to be entered in the cost plan under the relevant category.

 The following cost categories must be used:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses: Payroll and indirect expenses related to researcher time at the Project Owner organisation. For universities and university colleges, the costs must be based on the lump sum rates for fellowships for project participants from Norway. For institutes, the costs must be based on the hourly rates they have submitted to the Research Council.
  • Other operating expenses: Comprise costs for other activities that are necessary to carry out R&D efforts under the project, including access to relevant literature and other library services.

You will find detailed and important information about what to enter in the project budget on our website.

Scope of funding

We will provide NOK 2,25 million in funding for one project under this call. We can cover up to 100 per cent of the project costs.

Conditions for funding

The project must start 1 January 2023. You must apply for funding from the Research Council for the start-up year. The latest permitted completion date for the project is 30 June 2024.

Our requirements relating to allocations and disbursement of funding for the first year and any pledges and payments for subsequent years are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects on the information page What the contract involves.

If your project is granted funding, the following must be in place when you revise the application:

  • From 2022, all grant recipients that are research organisations or public sector bodies (Project Owners and partners) must have a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) available on their website.
  • You must prepare a data processing plan for any research data that will be processed in the project. Research data must be made available in accordance with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).
  • The Research Council requires full and immediate open access to scientific publications;
    see Plan S – open access to publications.

Reporting and disbursement of funding

Funding will be disbursed in arrears based on an invoice. You may submit more than one invoice throughout the project period for actual accrued costs. The balance will be paid out based on a final invoice as soon as the state-of-the-art report has been submitted.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

Land-based food, the environment and bioresources

Biodiversity and the environment

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

Applications must be created and submitted via My RCN web. You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have filled in the grant application form and included all mandatory attachments. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.

The application must meet the following requirements:

  • The project manager must be in the correct category.
  • The application must be within the purpose specified in the call.
  • The budget and any own financing must comply with the call.
  • The budget must be set up properly so that it is clear what funds are being sought.
  • The application form must be completed in full.
  • The requested attachments must be attached as PDF files and in the correct template.
  • The grant application and all attachments must be written in English.
  • All templates are available for downloads at the bottom of this call.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum five pages using the designated template found at the end of this call.
  • A CV for the project manager of maximum four pages.
  • CVs for all key member of the project group of maximum five pages each.

Applications that do not meet the requirements listed above will be rejected. We will not assess additional attachments, links to websites, nor any other attachments than those specified above. There is no technical validation of the content of the attachments you upload, so please make sure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.

All attachments to grant applications must be submitted together with the application form. We do not accept attachments submitted after the application submission deadline unless we have requested additional documentation.

Assessment criteria

We assess applications on the basis of the following criteria:


• The extent to which the concept is sound, credible and novel.

• The extent to which the project objectives are clear and relevant.
• The quality of the proposed deliverables from the project.


• The extent to which the expected effects are specified.
• The extent to which expected impacts on the system and societal levels are specified.

Knowledge sharing and exploitation
• The quality of the proposed communication and dissemination activities.
• The extent to which it is credible that the proposed outputs will contribute to the specified effects and impact.


Project Manager and project group
• The extent to which the Project Manager and project group are qualified and have the necessary expertise and are positioned to implement the project.
• The extent to which management structures and procedures are appropriate.

Plans and management
• The extent to which the work plan is clear and understandable, and the time table realistic
• The extent to which objectives and measures are coherent.
• The extent to which the project has the support of the leadership of the Project Owner and any partners, and the allocation of roles in the project is clear.
• The extent to which the budget is realistic and appropriate, and resources are allocated so that each of the partners can fulfil their role.
• The extent to which potential risks have been discussed.

Administrative procedures

Grant applications will be assessed by a panel of international experts.

After the panel assessment, the Norwegian Environment Agency will give advice on the relevance of the grant applications for the call for proposals and the relevance for society.

The Research Council administration will write a recommendation based on the panel's assessments and the advice from the Environment Agency.

The Portfolio Board for land-based food, the environment and bioresources takes the final funding decision.

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