Those people who have been watching the BBC drama Years and Years, will have seen the latest episode showing a funeral by water cremation.
Just under a year ago, we were approached by a producer for the programme who said they wanted to include a water cremation in a new drama with Emma Thompson, set in the future, and we shared more information about how water cremation works to inform their writing.
Whilst some of the descriptions of water cremation within the programme, or alkaline hydrolysis as they refer to it, are not 100% accurate, what it does show is that water cremation is a credible and environmentally sustainable funeral option that is likely to be available in the UK in the very near future.
So for anyone who watched the programme and wants to know more about what it is and how it works, here’s a few questions and answers:
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Instead of using fire, Resomation combines a water and alkali-based solution to speed up the natural process the body goes through at the end of life. When the process is complete, the remaining liquid is treated in the same way as other liquids entering a water treatment facility, in time returning to the natural water cycle.
IS IT CALLED ALKALINE HYDROLYSIS?
This is the scientific name of the process but in the UK is usually referred to as Resomation or water cremation.
DO YOU REALLY BOIL IN A BAG?
No. The body is carefully placed in a water cremator where a gentle solution of water and alkaline is used to reduce the body to bones over a matter of hours.
ARE YOU REALLY FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET?
No. When the water cremation is complete the remaining liquid is removed from the water cremator, assessed and treated, before safely entering the water treatment centre and eventually ending up in the natural cycle, as you would if you were buried or flame cremated.
ARE FAMILIES GIVEN THE LIQUID INSTEAD OF ASHES?
No. In the same way as flame cremation, the water cremation process leaves the bones which are turned to ashes and returned to the family.
IS IT AVAILABLE IN THE UK?
At present it is only permitted in the US and 3 Canadian provinces but Resomation, the company behind water cremation in the UK, is making great progress on introducing it here.
WHY IS THIS PROCESS NEEDED?
The number of funerals in the UK is now over 600,000 each year and this figure continues to rise. Land for burials is running out in many areas and flame cremation is the only current mainstream alternative. Resomation allows people looking for more choice, particularly to express their environmental concerns at end-of-life. Resomation is the next phase in this evolution and would help the sector improve its environmental credentials and meet the capacity challenges of a rapidly growing population by using innovative new water technologies.
WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS?
Resomation has significant environmental benefits over other end of life options. A recent study proved that Resomation has a carbon footprint over 7 times less than flame cremation and over 3 times less than burial. It also requires significantly less energy in the form of electricity and gas and there is no airborne release of harmful particulates, nitrous oxides, mercury from dental amalgam and dioxin emissions.
If you would like to find out more about water cremation or visit Resomation for one of our Open Days, please email [email protected]