Kansas considers ‘greener’ new way to bury its dead

Politics

Promessa, a Swedish company that wants to revolutionize how to reduce the ecological footprint in traditional burials, is focusing on Kansas to introduce its product in the U.S. because the state has what some consider relatively lax cremation laws, a report said.

The procedure, according to the Kansas City Star, is called promession. In standard cremation the body is broken down by fire. Promession consists of the freezing the body with liquid nitrogen and then “vibrating it into particles,” the report said.

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Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, the biologist who founded the company, said in an interview that promession is cost-effective and eco-friendly.

“You are still in an organic form, which means you are not broken down, you are still food for the soil and if you spread it around you will be food for birds, or fish, or whatever,” she told Wired in 2013.

Rachel Caldwell, a representative from the company, told the Star that she thought Kansas wouldn’t have “hang-ups” and was surprised when the state’s attorney general, Derek Schmidt, released an opinion about the matter before Thanksgiving. He reportedly said that the decision should be made by the Kansas Board of Mortuary Arts. The paper said it reached out to the board, and did receive a comment.  Promessa did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News on the Star report.

The interest in “greener” ways to bury the dead has become a topic that other states in the country are considering. Washington last May became the first state to allow the composting of human bodies. Licensed facilities in the state will offer a “natural organic reduction.” The body is mixed with substances like wood chips into about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil in a span of several weeks. Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

Kansas was reportedly an appealing state for Promessa because it does not require a fire to be used in the cremation process.  The paper spoke to one state representative, Dave Benson, a Democrat, who said he may consider drafting a bill to allow promession.

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“If that’s what you want, hey, where’s the government’s interest in telling you not to?” Benson said.

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