More choices for body disposal is a good thing

The choices on offer for body disposal is on the rise and not before time.

Not that burial was a poor option for hundreds of years. But as space for cemeteries runs out the need for other methods is exercising the minds of a few enterprising people.

We have reported on the Recompose method over the last couple of years, but it’s a business and requires the building of a substantial piece of infrastructure. While claiming the eco-friendly tag, these two new offerings are worth noting …. read on.

North Queensland is the setting for this story by Sally Rafferty, Jessica Naunton and Michael Clarke in Eco-friendly cremation technique leaves behind half a cup of liquid DNA instead of ashes (ABC North Qld, 21 September 2021).

Jeff Boyle says the technology produced no fumes or pollution and was totally carbon neutral.
“The energy used for a cremator is equivalent to lighting up a football field, while the energy used by The Gentle Way lights up a small office,” he said.

The system, developed by Jeff Boyle, a funeral director from North Queensland, is based on what he claims is a world-first water-spray alternative to cremation that leaves half a cup of liquid DNA instead of ashes, the ABC journalists report.

is not unlike acquamation (alkaline hydrolysis) – a method that’s been around for many years, but not widely used for a number of reasons that we won’t go into here. It mimics the process of alkaline breaking down the body in the ground.

“The water is sprayed over the body, much like a shower head does, for approximately 10 hours,” Mr Boyle said.

“The water goes through a specialised filtration system and it takes the DNA of the person out of the water and cleans it back like new again.”

The alkalinity reduces the body matter to bones.

The bone fragments are then processed and stored in an urn that, along with the liquid DNA, is given to the deceased’s loved ones.

The technique differs to alkaline hydrolysis offered in New South Wales, where bodies are put in a stainless steel drum filled with hydrogen peroxide and water and heated to 93 degrees Celsius.

The technology was successfully used for the first time last week, but it is already proving popular. Forty prearranged funerals have booked it in North Queensland and 10 funeral homes across the country have pre-ordered their own machines.

“We’ve had inquiries from France, we’ve had inquiries from Germany because they’re all about environmentally friendly,” Mr Boyle said.

More at this link: Eco friendly cremation

In a suburban warehouse tucked between an auto repair shop and a computer recycling business in Denver, Colorado, Seth Viddal is dealing with life and death.

Body composting a ‘green’ alternative to burial and cremation (ABC / Associated Press, 26 September, 2021)

“Composting itself is a very living function and it’s performed by living organisms,” he said.
“There are billions of microbial, living things in our digestive tracts and just contained in our body, so when our one life ceases, the life of those microbes does not cease.”

Key points:

  • Body composting reduces human remains through a natural organic process over months
  • Colorado has become the second US state after Washington to allow human body composting
  • Young people motivated by sustainability are expressing interest in the process.

The insulated wooden box is about two metres in length, 90 centimetres wide and deep, lined with waterproof roofing material and packed with wood chips and straw.

One of the drawbacks is that it’s not quick. It takes three months for the process to work, which might be much longer than people are prepared to wait. Sot this one is indeed a wait and see.

The good thing is that we are being offered more choice and smaller operators are challenging the limited options previously available, mostly controlled by the larger corporate funeral providers.

Read more here: Could body composting be the new way to go?

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