Brussels Parliament unanimously gave the green light, Friday, on a relaxing of rules on funerals and burials, ultimately to allow new modes, such as “humusation” and “alkaline hydrolysis,” and burial of remains in shrouds or cardboard coffins. PTB and Vlaams Belang abstained. Among other new features of the adopted system, we note the addition, in all of the capital’s cemeteries, of a multi-denominational plot of land, and the desire to provide, on each of these, a room dedicated to holding neutral funeral ceremonies.
Humusation is a controlled process of transformation of the body by micro-organisms in a compost composed of pruning wood chips, which, within 12 months, transforms the remains into healthy and fertile humus. Alkaline hydrolysis consists in immersing the corpse in stirred hot water (93°C), which contains agents which facilitate the dissolution of the flesh within a few hours (three to four hours).
The ordinance adopted on Friday grants greater autonomy to municipalities to create cinerary cemeteries, exclusively dedicated to burial modes associated with the cremation of the body, and preservation and scattering of ashes. In the future, they will be allowed to delimit areas other than cemeteries, such as on public land, where the ashes of the cremated body can be dispersed, conserved, or buried.
Furthermore, municipalities will be requested to make an inventory of graves of local historical importance, as per criteria that are yet to be determined by the Brussels government. “This ordinance, which is the subject of broad consensus within the assembly, is innovative on several points, in order to meet the legitimate expectations of Brussels residents. They increasingly abandon traditional burial in favor of cremation, are interested in new funeral modes, and show a growing interest in burial in places closer to nature than traditional cemeteries,” Minister President Rudi Vervoort commented, during the debate on the draft ordinance which he defended.
Mr. Vervoort (PS) also indicated that he had written to the appropriate Flemish and Walloon ministers, proposing inter-regional collaboration on all technical and legal issues surrounding the new processes which the ordinance allows.