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Epitaph or acid bath – a green way to say farewell

Sep 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


FOND FAREWELL: A diagram of the resomation technology. Photo:

The funeral industry is looking to the future for new eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional cremation or burial.

A process called resomation is gaining international support and interest as a greener approach to saying goodbye.

The body is placed inside a silk bag and lowered into a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide which is then heated to around 160°C.

This dissolves the body into two parts – liquid and bone – which can be crushed into dust and taken away by the family.

Although it has a similar result to cremation it does not create heavy emissions or leave behind a carbon footprint.

resomationmedlandThe idea may make some traditionalists turn in their graves but Simon Manning, pictured, managing director of Funeral Link NZ, which represents independent funeral homes nationally, agrees with the comparisons to cremation.

“I see that from the public perspective they will get the same thing that they get now, a container with crushed bone in.

“The public don’t identify that this is what they are getting, they rather see it as ‘ashes’, which is acceptable to them,” Mr Manning says.

While New Zealand’s clean and green image suggests it is a likely place for resomation to catch on, he is unsure how Kiwis would respond to the idea.

“The way I see it … there is nothing to stop someone installing a resomator in their premises tomorrow.

“The question is, would the public of NZ find it an acceptable process? I am just not sure about this answer.

“The people who are dying at the moment are generally old and conservative and therefore slow to change, the next generation however will probably feel that would be an acceptable method of disposal,” he says.

From his understanding, Mr Manning says there would be nothing stopping anyone from bringing the technology into New Zealand.

Dave Medland, manager of Wilson Funeral Home in Wellington, had also heard of the process but was sceptical on whether New Zealand was ready for it.

“We seem to be quick to take on new technologies for example cell phones, PCs etc. But, well, who knows with this,” Mr Medland says.

Mr Medland is also curious about the cost of the process and how it would relate to the wishes of the deceased.

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