Image of a vase with a loved ones ashes in

Co-op set to offer water cremations in first major funeral shift for 120 years

Co-op Funeralcare are set to introduce the biggest change to funerals in over 120 years as water cremation, also known as resomation, is to be made available in the UK.

In a move that is set to revolutionise the way we say goodbye to loved ones, the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, is set to pioneer the introduction of Resomation in the UK later this year.

It will mark a major shift in UK funerals for more than 120 years, as the first alternative to burial or cremation since the introduction of the Cremation Act 1902.

Resomation, sometimes known as Alkaline Hydrolysis or Water Cremation, speeds up the natural process associated with burial. The deceased is enclosed in a biodegradable pouch and placed in a container filled with pressurised water and a small amount of potassium hydroxide – each cycle takes approximately four hours.

At the end of the cycle, the soft bones which are left are dried, then reduced to a white powder, similar to ash. The remains are then returned to relatives in a sustainable urn.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Co-op has highlighted that alternative methods, such as Resomation, have potential to be a preferred choice for UK funerals.

Whilst 89% of UK adults hadn’t heard of the term Resomation, once explained, just under a third (29%) said they would choose Resomation for their own funeral if it was available.

What’s more, 17% of UK adults who have arranged a funeral in the last five years said they would have considered Resomation for their loved one’s funeral had it been an option at the time.

The Co-op, which arranges over 93,000 funerals every year says that with 80% of families now opting for cremation for their loved one believes it is time that alternative committal methods such as Resomation are looked at as a mainstream option for UK funerals. Government have been updated on plans to make Resomation available and questions on new methods were also raised at the Synod of Church of England earlier this year.

Gill Stewart, MD of Co-op Funeralcare said:

“Our priority is to help families create a funeral that is personal every step of the way, and as the leading provider of funerals in the UK introducing innovative and sustainable options for our clients is an absolute priority.

Up until now choice has been limited to burial or cremation. We’ve seen from the rapid uptake of newer funeral options such as direct cremation, that when choice in the funeral market is broadened, this is only a positive thing both for the bereaved and for those planning ahead for their own farewell.”

Julian Atkinson, Director of Resomation service Kindly Earth said:

“For decades there have been just two main choices when it comes to their end-of-life arrangements: burial and cremation. By starting to make Resomation available in the UK, Co-op will be providing people with another option for how they leave this world because this natural process uses water, not fire, making it gentler on the body and kinder on the environment.

Throughout the thirty years I have been involved in the funeral industry, I have always been passionate about people having access to more sustainable end of life arrangements, and we are encouraged to see that many members of the public are conscious of reducing the carbon footprint, even after death.”

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