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Organic burials: corpse to compost in six months

By Louise Murray - 09 Mar 2011 15:12:0 GMT
Organic burials: corpse to compost in six months

Transforming corpses into compost is a much more eco-friendly process than traditional burial, or energy-hungry cremation. Environmentalists now have the option of a clean, green method for their last act of recycling.

Meredyth Mellor, chief executive of Promessa UK Ltd said, 'The primary attraction of promession is that it is gentle and respectful, clean and green, allowing us to return our bodies to the earth as nature intended. It is a way of using death to contribute to new life.'

The promession process of organic burial involves first freezing the body to minus 18 degrees C, then freeze drying in liquid nitrogen at almost minus 200 degrees. The brittle corpse is then subjected to sound waves that vibrate the remains into a white powder.

Any metallic residues can be removed at this point. After drying, the powder can then be buried in an bio-degradeable coffin made of cardboard or corn starch. Six to twelve months later the powder and container has turned into a loamy compost which will fertilise any trees or shrubs planted above as a memorial by relatives.

Mellor added, 'Liquid nitrogen is a natural by product of the oxygen generation industry, so the promession process is not energy intensive. Costs will be well below a traditional burial and similar to that of cremation. Promession will undoubtedly appeal to green consumers.'

Burial plots in crowded countries like the UK command a premium as cemeteries in cities fill up, and additional land for new burial grounds is scarce.

Traditional burial processes are none too friendly to the environment as carcinogenic embalming fluids and metal implants and fillings are all returned to the soil. It is also a slow process, taking up to 75 years for complete decay. Cremation requires much energy to burn the body, and mercury from tooth fillings has to be removed before it pollutes the air.

Mellor hopes to have the first UK 'promatorium' up and running in 2012, with others around the world in Sweden, South Korea and South Africa also planned.