March 22, 2012

Green cremation: A chance to die with no carbon footprint

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Mark Riposta, owner of Direct Cremation of Maine, stands with his new alkaline hydrolysis system. His business is one of the few commercial crematories in the U.S. using the system.

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Jeff Edwards, right, explains to JoJo Oliphant, manager of Direct Cremation of Maine in Searsport, how to operate a cremation machine that uses a chemical process to dissolve a body in 12 hours.

Photos by Joe Wilson

At least one of Riposta's competitors doesn't see the new venture taking off.

"It's basically like bringing people to dissolve their tissue. ... People aren't going to like it," said Chris Stilkey, owner of Lighthouse Crematory in Freeport.

Stilkey said he looked into the technology a couple of years ago and wasn't convinced that it was better for the environment than incineration.

"It don't believe it's that green," he said, considering that propane is used to heat the water.

Cornfield, from the DEP, said she considers traditional crematories to have a "very, very slight" impact on the environment, and hasn't seen proof that alkaline hydrolysis has less of an effect.

"If you look at the facts, I can't say that one appears any greener than the other," she said. "This is an alternative, and it seems to be quite fine."

Letting people know their after-life options is a good thing in the eyes of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine, said its president, Delene Perley of Windham.

"We're interested in how this might work for people," she said.

Perley said some people she has talked to about alkaline hydrolysis haven't reacted well to the idea of their dead body dissolving.

"They go, 'Oh, gross,'" she said.

Personally, Perley doesn't think it sounds all that bad.

"How is that any different from burning?" she said.

Riposta said it's proven that, when given the choice, some people will choose to do what's better for the environment. He doesn't see why it will be any different for his service.

"There's something about doing the right thing for the earth we live in," he said. "They feel good about it."

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


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