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Bio-cremation cuts emissions, uses sewer

An innovative mortuary technology for processing human remains is being proposed for use by Park Lawns that wo...


An innovative mortuary technology for processing human remains is being proposed for use by Park Lawns that would use Toronto sewers to dispose of liquid waste. Bodies of the departed are placed in an alkaline solution and then subjected to pressure. The resultant byproducts are liquids that can be flushed to local sewers and a white powder derived from crushed white bones, suitable for interment in an urn.

The technique is known as “resomation” (and also goes by “alkaline hydrolysis” and “bio-cremation”). Transition Sciences Ltd. says the carbon footprint of resomation is 20 times less than regular cremation, but it’s not yet legal in Canada

A crematorium must be heated above 1,000 degrees Celsius for between two and four hours to consume an average body, using 92 cubic metres of natural gas and 29 kilowatt hours of electricity. Such cremations release 400 kilos of carbon dioxide into the air, in addition to the mercury and other toxic metals when dental fillings, pacemakers and joint replacements are burned.

Transition Sciences says its technology compares favorably to traditional burial, as well. It can take a century for an embalmed body and casket to break down. The formaldehyde used in the embalming process is carcinogenic. According to the Casket and Funeral Association of America, the United States buries 70,000 cubic metres of hardwood annually in the form of caskets.

Approval for resomation may be obtained from the province and municipalities as soon as next spring.

Watch for an article on this technology in the next edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine and the CleanTech Canada supplement.


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