An eventual crematorium should be environmentally-friendly, cheaper than a usual burial allow for funeral services of up to 300 people, the Malta Humanist Association has said.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, the MHA listed a number of suggestions which it urged the government to consider when introducing cremation.

The association emphasised that cremation should be accessible to all and suggested that the government should consider subsidising the service if needed to bring the cost of funerals down.

It insisted that ashed remains should be given to the deceased’s next-of-kin, to be kept and disposed of in line with their wishes.

“We think that by law, one should also be able to consider appointing a "post-mortem curator" to intervene at the point of death, to make sure that the deceased's body is treated as per the deceased's will,” the MHA said.

The association also urged the government to ensure that a crematorium was accompanied by an adequate venue that could host funerals of any worldview. The venue, it added, should allow for ceremonies as large as those in a traditional church, with the association suggesting a 300-person capacity.

Cremation should be as environmentally-friendly as possible, the MHA said, making it an attractive alternative to burial, which put significant strain on Malta’s limited land resources.

To keep cremations green and low on emissions, the MHA is suggesting the use of bio-cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis. In this process, bodies are put in a pressure vessel filled with a mixture of water and lye, and heated to around 160 degrees Celsius. This breaks the body down into its chemical components. It uses far less energy and produces fewer emissions than standard cremation techniques, but can take up to six hours.

Health Minister Chris Fearne told parliament earlier this month that the government planned to present a law to introduce Malta’s first crematorium for humans. The law will be spearheaded by MP Rosianne Cutajar, who has already met with the MHA.

A cremation service for pets was introduced earlier this year.

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