It is possible that from 2020 in the UK we will see the new process of dissolving human bodies?”

The Face guide to the 2020s: From “pure cremation” to a hydrolysis process with a lower environmental impact – this is how death might look in the 2020s.

Hi, and welcome to the future: a toasty-warm, carbon-neutral, plastic-free place where your face has replaced your passport and your car drives itself. Weed is legal, alcohol is hangover-free, weekends last three days and we robots do your admin. We can dream.

Ten long years ago, The Face compiled a set of predictions for the coming decade from a star chamber of hotshot experts. That flesh-and-blood editorial team has long since disbanded but their legacy remains. From now until the first day of the new decade we’re sharing some prognostications (as seen in The Face Volume 4 Issue 002) on love, sex, space, AI, cannabis, mental health and plastic surgery (and more) for the years ahead.

Douglas Davies (Director of the Centre of Death and Life Studies, Durham University)

It is possible that from 2020 in the UK we will see the new process of dissolving human bodies – a hydrolysis process pioneered by companies such as Resomation – coming in. Most likely it will be its lower environmental impact which will appeal.

Body composting will become normal in parts of America around the same time, and I can see it taking off a little in western Europe, too. But it won’t be popular. We are attuned to cremation and hydrolysis because of the time involved: the whole process can be completed within a week or a fortnight. But it can take a whole year (or longer) for a body to decompose – I’ve a feeling that’s not going to catch on.

We are also seeing the rise of pure cremation’ – a system where a company will take away a body, cremate it and bring back the ashes without any funeral or ritual. It’s cheaper but mainly being taken up by the middle classes. I think it is because the British middle classes are more undecided about death and dying, and more willing to cut down the debate and family politics by having nothing to do with it at all.”


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