Horizons newsletter – week 34 // 2018
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Plastics’ qualities were once praised as a solution to many problems. Today, plastic makers are facing some serious issues, such as companies phasing out plastic (among which Adidas, Starbucks, Ikea and Disney) and stricter government regulation, for instance in France, Chile and China. France pledges to use only recycled plastic for packaging by 2025, China wants to stop importing plastics from abroad and Chile recently put a ban on plastic bags. These shifts are driving major chemical companies, such as Kaneka, DuPont and BASF, to accelerate or start up the production of alternatives that are either recyclable or biodegradable. At the same time, researchers from all over the world are looking for natural-based alternatives to fossil fuel-derived plastics. For example, Indian scientists are exploring the crop plant sorghum and U.S. researchers found an answer in crab shells and tree fibers. Although production costs are still an issue and waste companies face difficulties with composting the biodegradable plastic, the world might experience a new ‘plastics’ heyday.
The urban-rural merger
In 2018, more people are living in urban areas (55%) than in rural areas. By 2050, this will be 68%. Often, city dwellers are disconnected from nature and local food production chains. However, a merge of rural activities within cities is emerging. For instance, the growing of crops within the city could produce 10% of the global output of vegetable crops. Furthermore, the benefits of urban agriculture, such as energy savings and climate regulation, could amount to $80-160 billion annually. These insights drive urban planners and local leaders to consider the merging of the rural and the urban. On the one hand, cities around the world are building urban farms; for instance, Singapore recently announced to build a large indoor farm. On the other, the merge is visible in a drift to the countryside: with U.S. millennials leaving the city to move into agrihoods, communities on farms, to live close to nature and locally produced food. As the problems of urbanization become more apparent, symbioses between the city and the countryside will increase, with food production as primary linkage.
Ed tech will change corporate education
Online education providers are increasingly breaking into the global corporate education sector. The platforms are using a “Netflix approach”, charging a subscription fee for access to hundreds of courses, ranging from improving work-related skills to personal development. Compared to traditional business schools, online providers benefit from significantly lower costs, scalability, a diverse palette of supplementary training, and less time-consuming programs. Moreover, these providers are starting to use big data and AI to assess abilities, identify skill gaps and deliver personalized recommendations and customized programs. In addition, providers are adding a fun element in the form of “gamification”; challenging users to test or compete against others. And through immersive technology such as virtual reality, providers are creating an environment where learners can practice skills. After higher education and the tutor market for primary and secondary schools, the corporate education sector may be the last to catch on to the rise of online education. However, it might be the biggest opportunity for online education to flourish: unhindered by strict government regulations, companies have more opportunities to experiment with lifelong learning.