Ireland offers eco-friendly water cremation for first time in Europe

Ireland will soon be able to practise water cremation, a novel method of final disposition also known as resomation.

Water cremation is seen as an alternative to traditional fire cremation, and it has already gained popularity in the US and Canada due to it being a more environmentally friendly option for burial.

As people prepare for their death and consider the environmental effects of burial, sustainability is a key selling point for water cremation.

Traditional burial, despite relying on natural decomposition to break down remains, can lead to embalming fluid seeping into the soil.

Elizabeth Oakes is the founder of Pure Reflections, which will open its resomation facility in Navan, Co Meath, next January.

It will be the first of its kind in Europe, and Ms Oakes said 20 people have already indicated their intention to use this type of burial method.

Ms Oakes came across the technology while studying mortuary science in California, during a tour to the UCLA body donation programme.

“I just thought it was amazing. It’s such a clean, sterile environment when you compare it to, I suppose, traditional flame cremation,” she said.

Every gas-powered fire cremation releases approximately 245kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, according to the CDS Group, a UK consultancy specialising in cemetery and crematorium development, open space design and environmental solutions.

As well as this, vaporised mercury and toxic emissions can be released which are harmful to the environment.

In contrast, figures from Resomation Ltd, the founding body for water cremation, state that one water cremation releases just 28kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. There is also no mercury released into the atmosphere during the process.

Water cremation, or resomation, will officially become an end-of-life option for Irish people when Elizabeth Oakes opens her facility in Navan, Co Meath next January

Ms Oakes has spent three and-a-half years trying to bring the technology to Ireland.

During a water cremation the deceased’s remains are wrapped in a woollen shroud and placed into a large steel vessel. The chamber is then filled with 95% water and 5% alkaline solution, which is heated gently.

Over the course of three hours, the water flows over the remains and breaks them down into their chemical components – amino acids, peptides, sugars and salt.

What remains is a liquid that is then treated in another tank until sterile and free of DNA – and the bones, as with fire cremation, are placed into a reducer and turned into what we call “ash”.

The water cremation process is considered by some as a gentler alternative to traditional burial or cremation, Ms Oakes says, while she believes it can help cushion the blow of bereavement.

“Everybody grieves differently,” she said.

“I just feel if we can create a positive impact on the loved ones that are left behind by the service we provide, by the care journey we give to their loved ones, that will create a positive grieving process for them in the long run.”

News courtesy: RTE

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