At his request, the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s body underwent aquamation — considered to be a greener alternative to cremation — South Africa’s Anglican Church confirmed to CNN on Saturday.
Aquamation is a water-based process whose scientific name is “alkaline hydrolysis”, in which a “combination of gentle water flow, temperature, and alkalinity are used to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials” when a body is laid to rest in soil, according to Bio-Response Solutions, a US company which specializes in the process.
The company’s website says the process “uses 90% less energy than flame cremation and does not emit any harmful greenhouse gases.”
According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), an international non-profit organization, alkaline hydrolysis is sometimes referred to as flameless cremation.
Once the bones are dried they can be pulverized. “The process results in approximately 32% more cremated remains than flame-based cremation and may require a larger urn,” according to CANA.
As well as requesting an eco-friendly alternative to cremation for his body, Tutu also took other steps to ensure his funeral would be as modest as his lifestyle was — his body laid in state in a simple pine coffin, which was the “cheapest available” at his request, his foundations said.