A council has plans to allow people to dispose of loved ones' bodies through water cremation, a new and environmentally friendly way to get rid of human remains.
The process involves putting a body is put into a steel vat with an alkaline solution that accelerates the natural breakdown of the body, turning all but the bones into liquid that gets poured down the drain.
Water cremation involves putting a body is put into a steel vat with an alkaline solution that accelerates the natural breakdown of the body, turning all but bones into liquid that can be poured down a drain. Pictured above, a Resomator used during for the water cremation
The council has given permission to Rowley Regis crematorium to fit a £300,000 Resomator, or water cremation device into their facility.
But water company Severn Trent has refused to give the council a 'trade effluent permit', arguing that the permit only covers waste disposal.
Rowley Regis needs permission from Severn Trent before it can dispose of waste down the drain, The Sunday Times reported.
Sandwell council, Resomation and Water UK are working to 'explore all the options' to allow the device into Rowley Regis.
Alkaline hydrolysis was originally created to dispose of animal carcasses, but it is now being used in parts of North America as a more environmentally friendly way of disposing of loved ones' bodies.
Alkaline hydrolysis uses a metal hydroxide, 572F (300C) heat and huge amounts of pressure to destroy bodies in big stainless-steel cylinders that look similar to pressure cookers.
Dean Fisher, director of the Donated Body Program at UCLA, shows off a machine called a Resomator which completes a water cremation
The process involves submerging the body in a solution of water and potassium hydroxide, which is then pressurised and heated for two-and-a-half to three hours.
This leaves a green-brown tinted liquid containing amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts and soft, porous white bone remains which are easily crushed into ash and given to the family in an urn.
The liquid waste, meanwhile, is flushed down the drain. Per body, there is about 330 gallons (1,500 litres) of liquid waste.
It also eliminates concerns about crematorium emissions, including carbon dioxide, which can be released into the air as part of the process.
The process is considered to be a new way to 'green-ify' death, as concern grows over the carbon footprint that is left by burials and standard cremations.
The process is considered to be a new way to 'green-ify' death, as concern grows over the carbon footprint that is left by burials and standard cremations (file photo of a cemetery)
Resomation's founder, Sandy Sullivan, 61, said 'dozens' of crematoriums across the UK are interested in the water cremation devices, which are built in West Yorkshire.
He said he hopes Rowley Regis will have the cremation device in operation by springtime.
'There is no technical reason why the liquid can't go down the drain,' he told The Sunday Times. 'It is a very treatable organic liquid. It is sterile and there is no DNA in it.
'We are copying nature. The body dissolves by soil bacteria and it is a very long process. All we are doing is taking the exact same chemistry and applying heat, which speeds it up. This is a third option, other than cremation and burial.'
While it would be a first in the UK if Rowley Regis is able to start using the process, the Crematory Association of North America (Dean is a board member) added alkaline hydrolysis in 2010 to its definition of cremation.
The cremation industry itself has already been undergoing rapid change in recent years; according to CANA statistics, the cremation rate in the United States jumped from 26.2 per cent in 2000 to 48.6 percent in 2015.