Veolia gives us the house of 2050

French environmental services giant Veolia has been looking into the near future and its got some interesting predictions about our homes. For example, we won't need bins nor to buy detergents. And bathrooms will keep themselves clean.

It is only 37 years away, but some 70 per cent of the world's population will be living in cities by 2050. And with so many people, we'll have to live far more sustainably than we do now, which means a circular economy in which nothing is wasted. Veolia and the London School of Economics have been extrapolating from what technologies we have already and those which are coming on stream and given us a glimpse of how our homes might be in 2050.. with recycling chutes that take materials straight to the recycling plant and self-cleaning bathrooms. And vertical farms will grow plants for the biotechnology that will give us plastics and water purification.

Crystal ball gazing is always fun. But urban life for people in 2050 could be very difficult unless we start now to ensure a circular economy in which nothing is wasted. 

Veolia Environnement is hugely interested in sustainability and sees the need to stop wasting resources as the key area to focus on. It's worked with the LSE on 'Imagine 2050' to consider how environmental technology can transform society in the wider context and the homes we'll be living in.

So in Veolia's imaginary city, we'll have dense high-rise apartment blocks. But the apartments within won't be anything we recognise today; they'll be paragons of eco virtue.

Much as buildings today are connected to sewage, gas and water mains, so they should also have chutes that take our recycled materials straight from our homes to the local recycling centre.

We won't shop, we'll print what need on our own 3D printer. And you might see a vertical plant growi
Bathrooms will have plants and bacteria in them that will treat waste water, so it can be used again

Hence there'll be a waste hatch in every kitchen. You toss in your food waste and other recyclables and they'll land at a level in the building where nanoscopic robots will sort the material into various piles before sending it on to a network of pipes connected to the recycling plant. So we won't need bins in our kitchens anymore..not even a compost bin on the kitchen counter.

Food packaging will biodegrade in line with sell-by dates and our water will be purified by systems derived from plants and bacteria.

Bathrooms

Forget using gallons of water to clean the bathroom...or the danger of slipping on wet tiles... and there'll be no more unnecessary rinsing of hands.

Water will become a more scarce natural commodity with huge urban populations. We don't want to end up going to war over it, so we'll need to recycle water within our homes, and do it in a way that doesn't involve electricity consumption.

Veolia's 2050 house will have vegetation basins in the bathroom. Used water will flow into them, where it will be purified by plants and bacteria, ready to be pumped back into the clean water system for re-use. And all this water recycling won't cost anything beyond paying for the plants.

If you're a household in which people have baths instead of showers, you should know that baths account for just over 20 per cent of your your water usage. So you might think they'll be banned by 2050.

But no, you'll be able to enjoy a bath despite running only a few cupfuls of water. How? Because ultrasonic vibrations will produce millions of tiny bubbles that will clean you without the need for soap, and make you feel you're being soaked, not dry cleaned.

Possibly not so popular with the OCD fraternity, but there'll be no more running your hands under the tap for longer than is necessary. Because basin taps will have senso-cleaners that will automatically scan your hands as you wash them and the water will stop once the sensor detects all dirt has gone.

And scrubbing away with Cif, using up all the hot water to clean scum from sinks and baths.. forget that. Surfaces in the house of 2050 will be covered with a crystalloild microrelief, a bit like lotus leaves are, that will stop any dirt particles from becoming attached to them. Et voila, a permanentlly sparkling bathroom.