Daley legislation to expand use of Alkaline Hydrolysis in PA passes House

HARRISBURG, May 1 – A Pennsylvania House bill providing for a human cremation process known as alkaline hydrolysis passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today, said Rep. Mary Jo Daley, sponsor of the legislation.

Alkaline hydrolysis, sometimes called water cremation, is a method of cremation that uses an alkaline solution and a pressurized steel chamber to break the body down to an ash component. The combination of the alkaline solution, pressure, and heat creates the ash, similar to flame cremation, which requires high amounts of energy.

“As the demand for cremation builds, it’s important to note that heat over 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary – and that requires a lot of energy consumption in crematoriums,” said Daley, D-Montgomery. “When people think that cremation offers a greener end of life than a burial does, it’s important to keep this perspective in mind.”

Water cremation is estimated to use about a quarter of the energy traditional cremations use, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"The proposed legislation aims to provide Pennsylvanians with interment choices that are not only kinder but also environmentally sustainable compared to existing options," Daley said. “Complex problems require complex solutions, and it is important to keep up with these advancements in end-of-life care.”

“Cremation is typically seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to burial, but that is not necessarily the case,” said state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., a co-prime sponsor of the legislation. “In order to cremate a human body by flame, as is the current method, heat in excess of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary. Creating that amount of heat takes immense energy and emits as much carbon dioxide as a 1,000-mile trip by car.”

The bill will now head to the Pennsylvania Senate, where it will await a vote.