Over the past several decades, cremation has become a viable alternative to traditional burial services. Due to the Catholic church’s position changing about not being able to have a mass if you choose cremation, and many people thinking about the long-term ecological impact of traditional burials and caskets, cremation has been on the rise significantly for those who are looking for something outside of the old traditions.
California funeral homes are eager to start another trend in cremation – known as bio-cremation – as one more alternative for those who are planning their arrangements ahead of time or looking for options for lost loved ones. Offering a much greener way to leave this earth intact, California is the second state to consider the practice and to decide whether it should be a legal alternative or not.
Bio-cremation is a process that uses a liquid chemical to decompose the body instead of using fire. Providing a totally environmentally-friendly practice, those who want to pass new legislation to allow its practice believe that it will cut down on greenhouse gases and be the best way to send loved ones off when you say goodbye. To use bio-cremation, a funeral director would have to purchase a bio-cremation machine. But first, legislation would have to make such a machine legal.
There is a proposed bill to allow cremation to include both fire and chemical methods. Already passed by two committees, the full assembly is set to make the decision before it is sent off for the Senate to vote on. If it does pass, California will be just one of two states in the nation to allow the use of alkaline hydrolysis. Currently, bio-cremation is legal in Florida. The first bio-cremation facilities are set to open in St. Petersburg in the first months of 2018.
Many funerals directors believe that there will be a huge consumer demand for bio-cremation as people become more worried about taking up green space and consider the greenhouse gases that come with cremation. One of the biggest advantages of bio-cremation is that it doesn’t require the facility to follow the same rigorous emissions compliance regulations as those that use traditional cremation services.
Currently, a bio-cremation machine can range anywhere from $400 to $200,000 each, and there are only a handful of manufacturers that are making them. If just one-tenth of the 20,000 funeral homes around the nation were to invest in one machine, that could spell amazing profits upwards of $400 million for those companies that are making bio-cremation machines.
The only person who will likely not win in cost between traditional cremation and bio-cremation is the consumer. It is still estimated to cost about $2500, which is what traditional cremation currently costs. But that is still far less than the $7500 average cost for traditional burial organized by a funeral home in Winnipeg. So, bio-cremation gives people a cheaper alternative, and a greener one to boot.
Cremation has gained steam over the past couple of decades as people started to see the green space lost through cemeteries and to consider that “dust to dust” is a more eco-friendly way to say goodbye to someone. Baby boomers who are cornering the market on funeral services see the new bio-cremation alternative as their way to do what they can to leave the earth better when they leave.
So, is bio-cremation for you or your loved one? The only difference between traditional cremation and bio-cremation is that there is literally nothing left of the body. In traditional cremation at least you have ashes to hold onto or to scatter. But if you want to speak in spiritual terms, the bio-cremation process literally returns the person to the earth and doesn’t involve any harmful emissions.
With many options for your final time on earth to choose from, bio-cremation might just be the newest thing in the world of funerals, but the technology and process are not new – they’ve been used in other industries for several years. Whether or not California will see fit to give the option to the general public remains to be seen.
Updated: January 4, 2018