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Let Brussels dissolve and compost bodies, says Vervoort

15:59 01/03/2018

Brussels minister-president Rudy Vervoort would like to see burial options in the region expanded, including being composted or having your body dissolved in chemicals.

Currently there are only two burial options in Belgium: a coffin or cremation. Brussels is working on legislation that would allow people to be buried in cardboard caskets, which are more environmentally friendly and affordable than traditional wooden caskets.

But Vervoort would like to go a step further and allow people to choose to have their bodies composted or dissolved in an alkaline substance. The latter is already being used in the US and Canada.

Composting, something being researched in other countries as well, would see bodies placed in a mass of straw, dry grass, sawdust and dead leaves. In about a year, the bodies would be completely decomposed, and the compost would be returned to the earth.

Dissolving involves a process called alkaline hydrolysis, which sees a body placed in an alkaline solution. After about four hours, only some bones remain. The solution can then even be recycled for other purposes.

In both cases, bones remain, but those can be ground into ash and given to loved ones if they so desire, said Vervoort.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw



Life on our planet is governed by the law of the conservation of energy; energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be modified from one form to another. This scientific law has significant implications for the after-life disposition of all human and animal remains as they represent energy that must be transformed through decomposition and cycled back into the environment as animal, plant, and microbial food. Any process that interferes with decomposition is potentially problematic because it prevents the cycling energy and nutrients that is necessary for all ecosystems to function. Interfering with decomposition can lead to significant environmental contamination and disease.

In 2009 Verde Products, Inc (VPI) a US based company, began studying the environmental impact of cremated remains and whole-body burial. Their research lead to the discovery of the negative ecological impact resulting from the current forms of disposition. Cremation is the most accepted form of disposition world-wide. This emphasizes a need for an in-depth understanding of the impact of cremated remains on the environment. The main misconception is that cremated remains are ashes. In fact, cremated remains are more similar to fossils than ashes. Cremated remains are bones that have been processed into fine particles following cremation. The cremation process stops natural degradation by removing all organic matter and bacteria from the bone. The bone becomes stable and does not change when scattered on earth or at sea.

Body burial in many countries is done in a natural manner, meaning the body is placed directly into the ground un-embalmed, possibly wrapped in a shroud or in a natural outer container, such as a wood or wicker coffin. Decomposition of the dead is a difficult proposition because each body is very complex. A large portion of the body, as much as 75%, will decompose rather quickly because it is made of protein, fat, and water. The problem with these components is that they are too nutritious; they release toxic levels of decomposition fluids into the soil that kill many forms of life including plants, insects, and microorganisms. In other words, these untreated decomposition fluids decrease biodiversity. Furthermore, it is also difficult to decompose the remaining 25% of the body because it is made of durable materials like bone, teeth, nails, and hair.

VPI has developed a product made of organic materials that essentially harnesses the natural process of decomposition and calibrates it to optimal levels for peak effectiveness and efficiency. The genius of this unique product is that it has the capacity to digest the flood of decomposition fluids while recycling all of the durable hard tissues. This product has the ability to neutralize the toxic effects of bodies and cremated remains while simultaneously facilitating their reintroduction to nature. The decomposition byproducts will be used as food by nearby plants and they will also foster the lives of countless microorganisms, earthworms, insects, and mammals. This product promotes biodiversity at all levels of an ecosystem, from microbe to mammal. This revolutionary organic matter drives the recycling of several elements that are absolutely crucial for life on our planet.

Bob Jenkins, President & Co-founder

Mar 2, 2018 16:42

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