A Canadian funeral home called Hilton’s AquaGreen Dispositions is the first in Ontario to use a pioneering “flameless” cremation method to dispose of dead bodies. Unlike a conventional cremation, the process does not release carbon dioxide or other pollutants into the atmosphere, instead using a combination of water, salt, and potash to dissolve organic material into a sludge that can be filtered and then safely disposed of using the existing sewer system.
While the process may sound unsavory, it’s actually not very different from the natural breakdown of a body buried in a grave. The difference is, of course, that the alkaline hydrolysis takes only two hours to complete a decomposition process that would take 15-20 years with a body buried in a casket. And the entire process only creates about a quarter of the carbon emissions normally involved in traditional cremation.
The solution used to dissolve the body is heated to about 300 degrees, hot enough to destroy any microbes or infectious prions present in the body, so that there is no health risk from being exposed to the remains. As such, it can simply be treated with normal sewage.
While most organic tissue is liquefied with this process, the bones themselves remain. After the liquid is filtered out, the skeleton can be dried and crushed into ash, which is returned to the family to be scattered or kept in an urn. Any artificial joints or surgical hardware will remain intact, however, and can be donated and reused by doctors in developing countries.
While many may have (understandable) concerns about the liquefied remains of a dead body being poured into the sewage system, local water utility workers have inspected the business and claim that they aren’t concerned about any effect on local water quality. They caution that it could be a problem further down the road if a large number of bodies undergo the process a day, but so far it’s simply not a popular enough option to cause any problems.
If you’re interested in having a greener cremation after you’ve passed away, be warned — the process is not legal everywhere. In fact, in the US it’s only legal in thirteen states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming. In Canada it’s only been approved for use in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario.
Via CBC News
Photos via Hilton’s AquaGreen Dispositions