Tag Archives: disposition of remains

Bio Cremation – a new, green form of cremation

This week the California legislature is voting on a bill that will make bio cremation another legal way to dispose of human remains; it will provide an eco-friendlier alternative to the current choices – burial or cremation.

What makes bio cremation via resomation different? 

The current alternatives – traditional cremation and burial pose threats to the environment.

Cremation uses fossil fuels which are regulated by environmental officials and which have the potential to add to pollution because of their green house gas emissions.  Burial poses another environmental threat, primarily because of the chemicals such as formaldehyde that are used in embalming fluids; formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that eventually leaks into the ground as the body decomposes.

Bio cremation via resomation, on the other hand, does not use anything toxic or harmful to the environment.  According to a representative of Matthews International, exclusive distributor of bio cremation equipment for the United States, this new option uses a process called alkaline hydrolysis.  This process reduces a body to dry bone residue which can be buried in a cemetery or returned to the family in an urn just like the currently available options.  In case you’ve never heard of alkaline hydrolysis, it’s basically the same natural process that occurs in our small intestines to aid digestion of foods after we eat.  But for bio cremation it’s done in a big stainless steel cylinder and uses 95% water in an alkaline solution.

What does bio cremation cost?

In the short run, the cost to the consumer should be no more than $300 – $500 higher than that of traditional cremation, a small premium to pay to better protect our environment.  This premium is necessitated by the high initial investment that will need to be made by crematoriums, etc. to purchase the necessary equipment. 

Where is the process legal?

Although the bio cremation process has been legal in Europe for awhile, it is just gaining approval in the United States.

Florida was the first state to legalize this process, followed closely by Maine and Minnesota.  It is anticipated that the California legislature will approve bio cremation this week.  And approval by legislatures in Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State is expected soon.

Adoption will be slower in other states, due in part to the fact that many of their legislatures don’t meet again until 2011.

What do consumers think?

Consumer testing of the concept has been very positive with some people commenting that they are pleased that there is finally a funeral service offering that is relevant to today.