For livable cities

Cities are nodes – for people, business, knowledge, prosperity. Yet urbanization also brings many problems: immense energy consumption, high emissions, excessive traffic and a lot of waste. Urban areas must become smart, circular and climate neutral – with the help of plastics.

“If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere”: Frank Sinatra's ode to New York sums up the unbroken appeal of cities. City life stands for freedom, development and diversity, promises advancement and prosperity. More than 80 percent of the world's gross domestic product is generated in cities.

Vibrant life: Cities are attracting more and more people.

Constant influx into the cities

More and more people are moving to urban centers. There are currently 4.4 billion city dwellers - that's 56 percent of the world's population. By 2050, the proportion could rise to almost 70 percent. In China alone, 900 million people are expected to live in cities.

At the same time, the number of huge metropolises continues to increase at a breathtaking pace. While there are almost 580 megacities around the globe today, there will probably be over 700 by 2030.

The downside: high emissions, excessive traffic, immense energy consumption

The downside of urbanization

However, the attractiveness of urban life also brings many problems with it. Large cities, especially in developing and emerging countries, are often inhospitable, sprawling juggernauts with excessive emissions, traffic and mountains of garbage. There are also social problems such as housing shortages.

Large carbon footprint

A particularly big challenge is the cities' enormous hunger for energy: They account for over two thirds of global energy consumption. Which is associated with a similarly high amount of climate-damaging emissions – cities are responsible for over 70 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Huge energy consumption

Heating, air conditioning, computers, stoves, refrigerators – there are a lot of often hidden energy guzzlers, especially in households and offices. As a result, the building sector accounts for around 37 percent of all energy-related CO2 emissions. Many houses are in need of renovation; In the European Union alone, 35 million inefficient buildings are to be modernized by 2030 as part of the Green Deal.

Buildings account for a ca. 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Excessive traffic and garbage

Another 15 percent of climate emissions are caused by traffic, which also contributes heavily to air and noise pollution. Added to this is the often inadequate waste disposal, being responsible for three to five percent of greenhouse gas emissions in cities. Worldwide, at least a third of municipal waste is not disposed of appropriately. Even rich metropolises like New York or Amsterdam have a significant waste problem.

Growing housing shortage

According to the UN, 1.6 billion people worldwide lack adequate housing; by 2030 the number could rise to three billion. An estimated 100 million people are homeless. Increasingly wealthy countries are also affected, where many citizens can no longer afford rents. In Germany, for example, according to a study there is a lack of 700,000 affordable apartments – the largest deficit in more than 20 years.

Numerous gigantic challenges can also bring many future-oriented solutions. These include efficient insulation for buildings, renewable energies and electromobility as well as smart infrastructure and the consistent switch to the circular economy. High-quality plastics help with this.

Covestro helps to make cities more sustainable and liveable.

Covestro's contributions to livable cities

Covestro wants to help make buildings and cities more livable and environmentally friendly. The company contributes plastics and their components as well as technologies and ideas to get there.

Here are examples:

  • Example energy efficiency:

    Good insulation ensures that buildings use less energy for heating and air conditioning. Covestro produces the components for rigid polyurethane foam – a material that allows very little heat to pass through. Here it is unmatched by any other large-scale, cost-competitive insulation material. Covestro also offers one of the ingredients, the MDI, in a climate-neutral version.

  • Example infrastructure:

    The idea of the networked, completely sustainable smart city is spreading. Multifunctional street lights act as a driving force, serving at the same time as an energy-efficient LED light source, charging station for electric vehicles, for security and environmental monitoring and much more. Covestro supplies plastics for the housings that are particularly robust and easy to design.

  • Example green energy:

    The city of the future must not only be digital, but also be based on renewable energy. Among other things, Covestro promotes wind power through innovative material solutions. For example, a special synthetic resin makes it possible to produce more stable and longer rotor blades, which allow a higher energy yield. At the same time, they are cheaper to manufacture and require less maintenance.

  • Example affordable housing:

    The German government has launched a flagship project for creating climate-neutral new urban districts with socially acceptable rents. In the cities of Überlingen and Stuttgart, new buildings are being built and existing houses are being renovated. Covestro provides the components for particularly thin insulation panels, which creates more living space.

  • Example electromobility:

    The electric drive is three times more efficient than the combustion engine, provided the energy comes from renewable sources. The particularly light and robust high-performance plastic polycarbonate from Covestro helps to increase the range and safety of electric vehicles and helps protect charging stations.

  • Example circular economy:

    In order to get their waste problems under control, cities should consistently introduce the circular economy. Covestro wants to help make it a global guiding principle and is aligning the entire company towards it: with non-fossil raw materials, renewable energy, innovative recycling technologies and cooperations for new solutions.

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In the meantime, feel free to discover our innovative material solutions!

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