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Urbanisation Radar: an introduction

​In this, the first of an ongoing series of articles exploring urbanisation and its effects on the global packaging industry, we provide an introduction to one of the world’s most challenging megatrends.


​Urbanisation may seem like old news – the point at which urban inhabitants surpassed the rural population was already marked around a decade ago – but, in fact, the trend is still increasing globally. This is true both for developed and developing economies.


In the next 35 years, the annual estimated growth rate for urbanisation is less than 1%, which may seem an insignificant figure, but when considered as a number of people, the huge significance of this apparently small growth rate becomes clear. In 2014, the world’s urbanised population was measured at 3.9 billion; by 2050, it is estimated that it will reach 6.3 billion.


On this scale, urbanisation presents extremely demanding challenges to infrastructure and the environment. Rapid urbanisation threatens sustainable development, and this not only refers to environmental issues, but economic and social ones also. When more people live in an increasingly limited space, it puts a huge amount of pressure on the systems we use to govern the supply of goods and the management of waste.


How can food and other basic necessities be distributed efficiently, safely and sustainably – and in a manner convenient for consumers – in a heavily congested megacity? How can the hygiene and freshness of that food be ensured, preventing health risks? How are the lifestyles of the modern city dweller to be catered for? And how is the encroachment of digitalisation affecting the ways goods are bought, sold, and consumed?


How food and goods are packed and how materials can be reused and circulated play an important role in supporting the sustainability of megacities. As we shall see in future Urbanisation Radar articles, a wide variety of solutions already exist, and the pressure cooker of the urban environment is driving a remarkable level of innovation in developing lighter, resource-efficient, functional, easily recyclable solutions enabling circularity and re-use of materials.


We hope you’ll join us as we explore the topic in more depth, examining the challenges and opportunities urbanisation has stimulated in terms of the packaging industry.

Read more:

Markku Leskelä's blog post on urbanisation

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