Environmental Burials: a Step Too Far?

Deciding how a friend or relative would want their body to be treated after their death is one of the most difficult and emotional decisions that most people have to make, and whilst attempting to figure out how best to follow “What he would have wanted”, it’s unlikely that environmental factors are given any consideration at all. Resomation Ltd, a Glasgow-based company, wants to change that.

The UK is rapidly running out of space for traditional burials

Resomation Ltd has patented a new method of disposing of human remains which they claim is environmentally friendly. The process, named resomation from the Greek word resoma, meaning rebirth, involves incasing bodies in a silk coffin and submerging them in water and potassium hydroxide. When heated to 170 degrees centigrade the body “returns to its constituent parts”, forming a white dust that Resomation Ltd refers to as bio-ash, and which can be given to relatives in an urn as with cremation.

Resomation requires lower temperatures and less energy than cremation, and neutralises embalming chemicals in the process. Whereas cremation releases harmful fumes such as mercury, Resomation Ltd are billing their process as simply a speeded up form of natural decomposition. Costs are similar to those involved in cremation, and about a thousand bodies in the United States have already been processed with resomation.

Burial space in the UK is already at a premium and authorities have said they will consider any proposals for alternatives to traditional burials.

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