Glenn Eugster, whose house is next to Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery, walks through graveyard March 18, 2011 in Alexandria, Va. (James A. Parcell/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

The device essentially dissolves the flesh by submerging it in a solution of water and potassium hydroxide pressurized to 10 atmospheres and heated to 356 degrees for two and a half to three hours. The process leaves behind the bones, which can be ground into a powder, much like the ashes after cremation, and returned to family and friends. The bodily tissue, once it is dissolved into a liquid, gets poured into the municipal water system where it enters the natural water cycle.

Another burial mechanism, called promession, is also in the works. The technique was developed by Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Masak. Promession requires infusing the body with liquid nitrogen and vibrating it until it essentially shatters. The fragments are passed through a filter to remove any metals, such as dental work, and placed in a smaller coffin for shallow burial. The process has not yet been authorized, but, according to the BBC, “many individuals have already signed up for the process,” with 60 countries expressing interest in the technology.