Promessa Organic AB's Sustainable Burial


Yossarian, one of the characters in Joseph Heller's novel Catch 22, had decided "to live forever or die in the attempt." While many of us have a similar wish, a Swedish biologist, Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, set up a company to deal with the reality. Promessa Organic AB may seem an odd name for a burial business. Until you learn just how they've developed an environmentally friendly form of passing on...Within about 10 days of death, the body is frozen in liquid nitrogen, making it very brittle. Once vibrated, it turns into an organic powder. In a vacuum chamber any water is evaporated away to leave a dry power (about 1/3 of original weight). A metal detector removes surgical pins, dental amalgams and such forth. The remains are then placed in a corn or potato starch coffin, to be be buried in a shallow grave. Within 12 months, or less, this has composted in a loam soil. The company suggest a tree or bush can be planted at the burial, so the loved one's body will directly nourish a new living thing, serving as a symbol of the person. (A cremation they say can use up to 23 litres (6 gal) of fluid oil and 0.5kg (1.1 lb) of activated carbon, while adding an annual contribution of 1/3 of total mercury emissions in Sweden.) The first facility is expected to be operating in Sweden in 2005. ::Promessa [by WM]