A new report from LSE and Veolia Environnment, the environmental services company, envisages the home of the future with nanoscopic robots sorting materials, self-cleaning bathrooms and ultrasonic baths. But it also contains stark warnings with two contrasting visions of urban living in 2050.
The report, ‘Imagine 2050’, outlines two scenarios where environmental technology will transform the home of the future - one in the context of a circular economy, the other in the context of a linear economy.
The report describes one future city in which system-level planning has created a dense, resource-efficient society characterised by collaborative consumption, shared ownership and local self-reliance. It also models an alternative scenario in which disparate and unregulated development has led to a resource-hungry urban sprawl where private consumption and ownership is prioritised over long-term communal thinking.
The 2050 resource-efficient home includes a kitchen where waste is sorted by nanoscopic robots and food packaging that is designed to degrade in line with sell-by dates. Meanwhile the bathroom features ultrasonic baths, self-cleaning surfaces and water purification based on systems found in plants and bacteria. Homes have 3D printers and new paints and materials optimising natural light and improving energy conservation. Some of these technologies are already in development.
In the more efficient city, emissions have been reduced by 80% (since 1990), compared to 40% in the alternative scenario. Water consumption is almost a third less - 100 litres per person per day instead of 130 litres.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Environnement Executive Vice-President, UK and Northern Europe, said: “By 2050 it’s estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. We need to start thinking now about how to lock urban lifestyles into more sustainable pathways. We already have much of the technology we need to recycle, recover and reuse precious resources, but we also need a shift in public attitudes and greater engagement from government and business.
Dr Savvas Verdis, Senior Research Fellow for LSE Cities at the London School of Economics, added: “We know from studying cities across Europe that the best-performing cities use a combination of infrastructure investment and innovative policies to encourage sustainable lifestyles. A circular economy cannot be built piecemeal, a systems-wide approach is essential.”
The view the full report see Imagine 2050
For more information visit www.veolia.co.uk/imagine2050