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Last Updated: Monday, 9 February, 2004, 15:01 GMT
Swedes offer freeze-dry burials
Biologist Susanne Wiigh-Maesak
Ms Wiigh-Maesak says after death she would like to become a white rhododendron
The environmentally-conscientious could soon ensure they don't end up polluting the earth after they die, thanks to a company in Sweden.

Concerns about the environmental impact of embalming fluids or cremation have led Promessa Organic to come up with a chilling alternative.

Their method involves freeze-drying the corpse in liquid nitrogen.

Sound vibrations then shatter the brittle remains into a powder that can be "returned to the ecological cycle".

Biologist and head of Promessa Organic Susanne Wiigh-Maesak said she hoped to promote environmental and existential awareness.

"Our ecological burial reduces environmental impact on some of our most important resources; our water, air and soil," she explains on her company website.

"At the same time it provides us with deeper insights regarding the ecological cycle, and greater understanding of and respect for life on earth."


After the freezing process, the odourless powdery remains are laid in a coffin made of corn starch and buried in a shallow grave.

Ms Wiigh-Maesak says the soil "turns the coffin and its contents into compost in about six months" which means relatives can then plant a bush or tree on the spot.

The method is based upon preserving the body in a biological form after death, while avoiding harmful embalming fluid
Susanne Wiigh-Maesak,
Promessa Organic
"The compost formed can then be taken up by the plant... The plant stands as a symbol of the person, and we understand where the body went," she said.

Ms Wiigh-Maesak says she would very much like to become a white rhododendron.

The company has applied for a patent on her method in 35 countries.

Ms Wiigh-Maesak said the authorities in Joenkoeping, 328 km (204 miles) south-west of Stockholm, were ready to start operating its first freeze-drying facility in the next couple of years.

The head of cemetery administration in Joenkoeping said younger people were keen on the idea as "green burials" are becoming popular in Sweden.

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