Dust to dust, gunk to gunk

A Scottish firm has come up with what it calls an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which involves breaking the body down with hot water and potassium hydroxide.

“Over 130 years ago cremation offered fundamental change in the way we approach human disposition and some serious convincing was required before it was fully accepted,” says Resomation founder and CEO Sandy Sullivan.

“Resomation now offers a new, innovative approach which uses less energy and emits significantly less greenhouse gasses than cremation.”

The resomation process is claimed to cut the release of greenhouse gases caused by cremation by about a third, as well as allowing the recovery of toxic mercury from dental fillings.

This might not sound like a big deal, but Resomation says that as much of 16 percent of all mercury in the environment is emitted by crematoria.

And the energy required for the process is less than one-seventh of that for cremation, it says.

It’s been used in the past as a way of disposing of bodies used for medical research, but this is the first time it’s been offered to the general public. The process has been approved for commercial use in Florida, Minnesota, Maryland, Oregon, Kansas, Colorado and Maine.

Resomation says that bereaved relatives needn’t be too aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. Bones aren’t broken down, and are cremated, so that there’s still a small pot of ashes.

“The process is normally two to three hours long, the same length of time as an average cremation, and once complete, a sterile liquid and bone ash remain,” says the company. 

“The sterile liquid is returned to the water cycle and, just like cremation, the bone ash remains are placed in an urn and returned to loved ones.”

A funeral home in St Petersburg, Florida, is being kitted out with the system, which is expected to go into operation next month.