By Rachel James | Smart Planet
One could say Yarden is king of death mountain – in the Netherlands at least. The company runs 41 funeral centres, 22 crematoria, and is asking future-forward industry questions.
Yarden commissioned a peer-reviewed report (PDF) from TNO last year comparing the environmental impact of corpse disposal methods. It turns out, traditional methods have the worst environmental impact by far.
TNO found that burial was by far the most environmentally damaging, as it takes up land space, causes the release of the greenhouse gas methane, and potentially leaks embalming chemicals into the soil and air. Cremation was the second most environmentally harmful method, since it causes the release of carbon dioxide emissions–the practice accounts for about .02% of the world’s CO2 emissions, at 6.8 million metric tons per year.
The first commercially available alternative to burial and cremation is a mix of potassium hydroxide and hot water. Dissolving the corpse, called “resumption”, is the first of two environmental friendly ways to “return dust to dust” – in this case, returning it to liquid.
The second is “cryomation”, an old-school Mr. Freeze method. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the body into a brittle mess. And in this case, we really do return to dust. Resomation Ltd, the Scottish company offering service in the U.S., markets the method as a new kind of cremation. Family members of the deceased do receive ash – only it is the ground-up bones that remain after resomation.
With an abundance of customers a sure bet, it is good to know the corpse disposal industry is considering the lasting impact of our contemporary death rituals. It would be tragic to see our beautiful graveyards go, and it is strange to imagine a time when graveyards would actually be a relic of the past.
Then again, if you saw the size of my New York apartment, well, that’s tragic too.