Article originally appeaered on: – Written by Kate Emery – West Australians may soon be able to have their bodies frozen with liquid nitrogen or dissolved in lye as alternatives to cremation.

A review of cremation and burial laws in WA could open the door to unconventional ways to deal with the dead by expanding the definition of cremation.

Methods used overseas but not allowed in WA include alkaline hydrolysis, where a body is stepped in water and lye until it breaks down to a substance similar to ashes from cremation.

Others prefer cryomation or promession, where bodies are freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen and fragmented, sometimes using intense vibrations. It has become increasingly popular in Nordic countries.

The methods have gained traction elsewhere because they are more environmentally friendly than cremation, which is energy intensive, and burial, which uses resources and takes up land.

At least one company, Queensland-based Aquamation Industries, offers alkaline hydrolysis in Australia.

In WA such methods are illegal because the definition of cremation is so narrow.

The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, which performs nearly all cremations and burials in WA, asked for that definition to be expanded in its submission to the Government’s legislation review.

MCB chief executive Peter Deague said he did not expect a surge in popularity for alternatives to cremation if they were allowed in WA.

But the move was about offering choice.

“Cremation is one thing, but what a lot of people are doing from a legislative perspective is broadening the term cremation so it doesn’t just mean reducing a body to ashes by fire but you can reduce a body to ashes by chemical means,” Mr Deague said.

The MCB already has alternatives to traditional cremation or burial, such as natural burials at Pinnaroo and Fremantle where bodies are not embalmed and are buried in biodegradable coffins.


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