Bonus Projects

BR logo

BONUS RETURN: Reducing emissions by turning nutrients and carbon into benefits

This project will identify and pilot economically and environmentally efficient technologies that are socially and politically equitable to contribute to win-win solutions that address multiple and interlinked challenges in the Baltic Sea Region.

The pre-existing policy environment in the Baltic Sea Region, defined by national interests and implemented within sectoral silos, has historically constrained innovation and implementation of systemic measures to safeguard the fundamental bio-physical basis that sustains 60 million people and 10 nations forming this vibrant region; namely its waters, its land and its air. Existing measures tend to only address challenges within a single sector and/or locality, often leading the translocation of challenges elsewhere in the Baltic Sea Region or the emergence of new challenges in another sector.

This BONUS RETURN project will focus on eco-technologies that reconcile key conflicting challenges inhibiting sustainable development in urban and rural settings within the Baltic Sea Region whilst reducing nutrient enrichment and carbonization in water bodies.

Pilots in Sweden, Finland and Poland will be set up to test the most promising eco-technologies identified by the project. Envisaged project outputs include an evidence-based review of eco-technologies; innovative models comprising both nutrient and carbon cycling; sustainability assessments of selected eco-technologies; policy recommendations for promoting the eco-technologies; and market strategies for the most promising eco-technologies.

Keywords: eco-technologies, monitoring, nutrients, win-win solutions, multi-sector approach

PartnersSweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is coordinating the project. The partners include:

   RISE logoUU_logo      SYKE_tunnus_rgb_pysty           SGGW_LOGO_godlo z nazwjpg               UCPH logo

EU competition seeks eco-tech innovations for a cleaner Baltic Sea!

The EU-funded BONUS RETURN project is offering pre-commercialization support to top ideas for reducing nutrient and carbon emissions and productive reuse in the Baltic region, in a new competition.

The Baltic Sea’s ecosystems are threatened due to both marine and land pollution, endangering its current and future benefits to society. The Baltic Sea nutrients and carbon reuse challenge hopes to inspire eco-technological solutions that could not only reduce pollution but also provide major sustainability benefits through resource efficiency and recycling at scale.

Up to three of the best entries will be offered support through the pre-commercialization process as part of the BONUS RETURN project. The project will give the competition winners the opportunity to perform tests, match their product to local needs, obtain tailor-made procurement and business plans, connect with investors, and introduce their products to potential markets.

The winners will also have the chance to present their innovation to a group of investors, researchers and public-sector actors at the Baltic Sea Future Conference in Stockholm, 8–9 March 2018.

BONUS RETURN aims to collaboratively support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that produce eco-technologies, by assessing their effectiveness in reducing nutrients and carbon, and deploying them using test-beds and commercialization at the project’s three case study sites in Sweden, Finland and Poland.

“We hope to find creative solutions with the potential to reduce the release of nutrients from wastewater and agriculture into the Baltic sea. This will be an opportunity for innovators to develop and test their prototypes in testbeds, with support from the project,” says Erik Kärrman, Group Manager at RISE, one of the BONUS RETURN partner institutes.

Apart from their ability to reuse nutrients and carbon, the eco-technologies will be assessed on their sustainability readiness based on the following criteria: health and hygiene, environmental issues, economy, socio-cultural dimensions and technical function.

“Phosphorous of high quality is a finite resource that must be considered globally, as it is essential to maintain food production. Greater recovery and the reuse of nutrients in wastewater is required in the future, as the potential for phosphorous recycling to agricultural land is very high. Therefore, innovations are needed to increase the proportions of nutrients that are reused in agriculture or other areas,” says Daniel Hellström, R & D Manager, Swedish Water and Wastewater Association.

The competition is open to European Union residents and organizations until 12 February 2018. Application is via the BONUS RETURN project website.

To be eligible for the competition, solutions must be a biological, physical or chemical intervention designed to minimize harm to the environment and provide services of value to society, that could be applied in the Baltic region. They must also be already implemented as prototypes, at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 or higher, according to the EU framework programme H2020. 

Further information on competition rules, assessment criteria and entry process »


A new EU funded project aimed at turning waste into profit officially kicked off in Sweden with a conference on 19th and 20th June at Sånga Säby. Members from Sweden, Finland and Poland, gathered in the north of Stockholm to set strategies for the three-year long project. It was the first time the partners were meeting since the project launched, which includes: Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW (WULS), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Uppsala University (UU), and Research Institutes of Sweden, (RISE). 

"What we find interesting with the BONUS RETURN project is that we can bring together the science community and cities. We will then foster this new collaboration to identify the right eco-technologies and see how we can get them on the market and scale up quickly", says Barbara Jackson, Race for the Baltic  CEO.

Project partners posing for a group photo.

The degradation of the Baltic Sea is posing a threat to its ecosystem, endangering the lives of the 85 million people living in its catchment areas. BONUS RETURN seeks to solve this problem in a sustainable way by bringing together research, local authorities and the private sector to find innovative solutions to reduce the emissions by turning nutrients and carbon in the Baltic Sea into benefits. The project aims to show the potential of how eco-technologies in three case study sites in Sweden, Finland and Poland can turn waste and pollution into profit.

"The way this project is designed provides opportunities for us to work together, share knowledge and learn from each other while transferring the knowledge towards something practical" says Dr. Marcus Carson, BONUS RETURN coordinator.

IMG_7241        IMG_0110                                 To culminate the intense two-day meeting, members were treated to a grill in the beautiful garden overlooking Lake Mälaren.

Representatives of BONUS RETURN will attend a ceremony hosted by Race for the Baltic on 28th June 2017 for cities participating in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, which includes cities focused on implementing sustainable and innovative solutions for local water management in their cities. Mayors and officials representing cities and municipalities from Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden will also be in attendance. Thereafter Charlotta Möller from RISE, together with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)'s Maria Osbeck and Karina Barquet will moderate a seminar during Almedalen week at the Swedish island, Gotland, on 4th July 2017 at 12:30 to 13:30 on how the BONUS RETURN project will move from problem to on-the-ground solutions by bridging the gap between innovation and commercialisation.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: #BonusReturn


New project set to reduce emissions in the Baltic Sea.


STOCKHOLM, JUNE 8, 2017. The BONUS RETURN project starts this month after receiving EUR 3 million in funding from BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme


The degradation of the Baltic Sea is an ongoing problem for the 85 million people living in its catchment area. Technological and management measures to curb pollution flows to the sea have focused on how to reduce carbon and nutrients on land and in our waters and seas. BONUS RETURN will show the potential of how eco-technologies can turn waste and pollution into profit.


"This project aims at finding practical solutions by shifting the mode of thinking about what has been previously considered waste materials – i.e. unwanted, unusable, and undesirable substances that have not been part of the planned supply chain – to  usable materials”, says Dr. Marcus Carson, the BONUS RETURN coordinator and senior research fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). He adds that, “the project aims to identify eco-technologies to apply the ’circular economy‘ in practice to convert what might otherwise be waste or pollutants into usable, valuable materials”.


BONUS RETURN will identify and assess eco-technologies that can address a broad range of challenges, and work towards scaling up those eco-technologies. It aims to accelerate the uptake of innovation and technology in cities closer by bridging research, policy and the private sector.


The project is determined to generate both research as well as practical outcomes in terms of effectiveness of eco-technologies for the case study sites in Sweden, Poland and Finland. “The type of outcomes BONUS RETURN envisages are win-win solutions combining traditional technologies with more innovative developments that contribute to ecosystems, society, and the economy. To be able to fulfill this goal, solutions need to be adaptable to existing institutional landscapes while retaining certain degree of flexibility for future societal changes” explains Dr. Karina Barquet, BONUS RETURN’s researcher and SEI’s Research Fellow.


The integrated methodology used in BONUS RETURN will bring together municipalities, researchers and investors to assess  the complete cycle from identification of eco-technologies – testing– pre- policy analysis -commercialisation – and scaling. This approach, is in itself innovative in the Baltic Sea region.


“We welcome the approach that is being taken in BONUS RETURN and look forward to seeing the benefits it brings towards the Baltic Sea region and its sustainable development as well as for the wider European community and protection of European seas”, concludes Kaisa Kononen, Executive Director, BONUS EEIG.







BONUS RETURN is coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Assoc. Prof. Marcus Carson (SEI), as well as project participants: Prof. Tomasz Okruszko (Warsaw University of Life Sciences), Dr. Jari Koskiaho (Finnish Environment Institute), Prof. Neil Powell (Uppsala University), Dr. Erik Karrman (Research Institute of Sweden) and Ass. Prof. Soren Marcus Pedersen (University of Copenhagen).


BONUS RETURN has received funding from BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU.


The seven ‘BONUS call 2015: Blue Baltic’ projects which started their implementation in April 2017 are:


BONUS BALTHEALTH – Baltic Sea multilevel health impacts on key species of anthropogenic hazardous substances, Project Coordinator Rune Dietz, Aarhus University, Denmark

BONUS BLUEWEBS – Blue growth boundaries in novel Baltic food webs, Project Coordinator Laura Uusitalo, Finnish Environment Institute

BONUS CLEANAQ – Innovative removal of N, P and organic matter in effluents from recirculating aquaculture systems, Project Coordinator Per Bovbjerg, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark

BONUS CLEANWATER – Eco-technological solutions to remove micro-pollutants and micro-plastic from contaminated water, Project Coordinator Kai Bester, Aarhus University, Denmark

BONUS FLAVOPHAGE – Bacteriophage based technology for pathogen control in aquaculture, Project Coordinator Mathias Middelboe, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

BONUS OPTIMUS – Optimisation of mussel mitigation cultures for fish feed in the Baltic Sea, Project Coordinator Jens Kjerulf Petersen, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark

BONUS SEAMOUNT New surveillance tools for remote sea monitoring and their application on submarine groundwater discharges and seabed surveys, Project Coordinator Rudolf Bannasch, EvoLogics GmbH, Germany


Further four projects funded from the same call will be launched soon. Updates on these will be made available at the BONUS website and through BONUS e-bulletin updates (subcribe at


More information about the BONUS RETURN project is available at

To view the full press release, CLICK HERE


Karina Barquet, Project Manager, BONUS RETURN, tel. +46 70 388 5690


Brenda Ochola, Communication Officer, BONUS RETURN, tel. +46 73 707 8613, brenda.ochola(at)

BONUS is a joint research and development programme producing knowledge to support

development and implementation of regulations, policies and management practices specifically tailored for the Baltic Sea region. It issues calls for competitive proposals and funds projects of high excellence and relevance based on its strategic research agenda.  Half of the funding for the EUR 100 million programme comes from the national research funding institutions around the Baltic Sea, the other half from the EU. 

BONUS   | Facebook and Twitter: BONUSBaltic

Maija Sirola, Communications Manager, BONUS, tel. +358 403520076, maija.sirola(at)