The funeral industry could benefit from more environmentally friendly options. But some firms in the United Kingdom have balked at one cremation alternative. Sandwell Council was working with UK-based Resomation to offer what’s called water cremation, but the water firm covering the region wants further guidance from the government. Water UK said, “It is the liquefied remains of the dead going into the water system. We don’t think the public will like the idea.”
Resomation offers “a dignified and respectful water based alternative to burial and cremation,” according to their website. They employ an alkaline hydrolysis process whereby a dead person is dissolved in an alkaline solution, becoming liquid and ash, in a unit called the Resomator. The website says after the process, liquid is “safely returned to the water cycle free from any traces of DNA.” Resomation “has been independently shown to have the lowest and indeed little environmental impact at all compared to burial and cremation,” according to the company. Four machines are operating in Minnesota, Florida, California, and soon, Chicago.
Sandwell Council aimed to offer water cremation at Rowley Regis Crematorium. But in March water services company Severn Trent didn’t give the council a trade effluent permit – which determines which substances can enter sewers. A spokesperson said, “We are looking for guidance from the government as to whether it is allowed or not, and there is no industry standard that says yes or no.”
The Telegraph quoted a source from Water UK as saying, “We are not convinced and believe the technology needs to be explored in much greater depth. This is an absolute first in the UK. We have serious concerns about the public acceptability of this.”
Resomation founder Sandy Sullivan said, “There is no technical reason why the liquid can’t go down the drain. It is a very treatable organic liquid. It is sterile and there is no DNA in it. We are copying nature. The body dissolves by soil bacteria and it is a very long process. All we are doing is taking the exact same chemistry and applying heat, which speeds it up.”
A Sandwell Council spokesperson said they are working with Water UK and other regulatory bodies to explore options for how to introduce the process. The Telegraph said Water UK is understood to be waiting for guidance from the government.
Images via Resomation