The world population is growing rapidly and with it the increase of mobility as people flock into cities to seek better standards of living. All these people have to be looked after, and their living standards and food supplies provided for as we strive to accommodate them on our crowded planet. High-tech plastics can help.
By 2050, according to UN predictions, there will be about nine billion people on the planet. Nobody can be exact about the figures, but the overriding message is clear: All these people will need to be supported. So what is being done about it? The answer is – quite a lot!
For example, products from Covestro are the key to practical solutions which help preserve, pack and transport our food.
Polyurethane insulating foam – based on components developed and produced by Covestro – is widely used throughout the food chain, with applications including distribution of perishable goods in refrigerated containers, right through to storage in cold stores, local storage in supermarkets, as well as domestic refrigerators, freezers or portable coolers.
Water and refrigeration for remote parts of the world
And in the meantime polycarbonate containers support safe water storage and transportation to remote parts of the world, where water is desperately needed to shore up dwindling local supplies. Besides, Covestro also uses such water bottles to produce a recycled plastic in a quality which is just as high as that of new material – with added sustainability credentials. An old bottle might end up becoming part of car bodywork or as housing for a laptop computer!
A recent example of a forward-looking project is Covestro’s collaboration with government and non-government organisation and financing institutions in the SunRise initiative – aimed at developing technology to help vulnerable and rural communities preserve food supplies in countries such as India, Thailand and Cambodia.
Here, polyurethane insulating foam is playing a key role in making low-cost, low-maintenance, solar-powered cold storage units, targeting rural villages. As a bonus, the project also turns agricultural waste into boards used in buildings or furniture.
The industry is working to continuously improve these insulating properties. Covestro’s latest insulation development is a rigid foam with pores that are up to 40 percent smaller than in conventional products. Because thermal conductivity decreases accordingly by up to ten percent, refrigerators use less electricity and offer more storage space.