Veolia Environnement has unveiled a vision for the management of household waste in bin-less homes of the future which includes nanoscopic robots sorting materials, self-cleaning surfaces and water purification systems based on plants and bacteria.
The environmental services company’s ‘Imagine 2050’ report has been drawn up with the London School of Economics and is part of its strategy to promote the circular economy.
LSE senior research fellow Dr Savvas Verdis said cities were best placed to adopt such advanced technologies because the concentration of population:
- makes the installation of infrastructure easier,
- offers economies of scale,
- presents better collaborative opportunities,
- supports greater innovation, particularly through academic centres.
He said: “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.”
Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Environnement executive vice-president, UK and Northern Europe, said society had to think now about how lifestyle could become more sustainable: “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”.
She called for a comprehensive policy framework to drive a “joined-up approach” to resource management from the public and private sectors.
“The UK’s Resource Security Action Plan is a step in the right direction,” she said, “But it must be supported by legislation and meaningful incentives and penalties. Only then will we see real progress towards the kind of cities we want our children to live in.”
Veolia’s 2050 home includes:
- a kitchen where waste is sorted by nanoscopic robots and food packaging designed to degrade in line with sell-by dates,
- a bathroom featuring ultrasonic baths, self-cleaning surfaces and water purification based on systems found in plants and bacteria,
- paints and materials optimising natural light and improve energy conservation.