Future of deathcare might be in human composting

It is quite clear that the current death care practises are not very environment friendly. Burning pollutes the air directly while burial results in leakage of embalming liquids that pollute the soil and underground water resources. The land needed for burial grounds can also be considered as wastage.

A US firm has revealed scientific details of a process called “human composting” by which funeral can be made environment friendly. As Washington has become the first state to legalise this practise, the firm, Recompose is gearing to offer its first human composting service by the end of February.

A pilot study done by company using this method has shown that soft tissue broke down safely and completely within 30 days. The process they use is called as natural organic reduction. It can convert a corpse into two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil.

The corpse is placed in a reusable hexagonal steel container along with wood chips, alfalfa and straw. By controlling the humidity and ratio of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen, the system creates the perfect conditions for the growth of certain heat-loving (thermophilic) microbes, These microbes dramatically accelerate the normal rate of decomposition.

The company founder  Katrina Spade says that concerns about climate change had been a big factor in so many people expressing interest in the service.

As more people are interested in environmental friendly funerals alternate methods such as the one provided by Recompose is gaining traction. Another company in UK, Resomation is marketing a device called as Liquid Cremation Machine.

It involves placing the body in a pressurised tank of water mixed with potassium hydroxide, which is heated to a temperature around 150°C. After  around four hours just the bones are left, which gets pulverised into a white powder. According to its founder Sandu Sullivan people find the process much gentler than burning. Since the practise is yet to be introdced in UK, the company now sells its products to the US.


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