The future’s bright, the future’s…..

Fran Hall 28 Comments
Fran Hall

Inside the ecoLegacy Dublin HQ

Editor’s note: Since writing this article, we have been informed of some serious misgivings about the Ecolation offer, and we would advise any readers to consider the points raised by Mary in the comments below. For clarity, the Good Funeral Guide does not endorse ecolation as a process as it is as yet unproven.

We have decided to leave the post on the blog as it was written in good faith at the time, however it is also our understanding that there have been some internal changes at ecoLegacy and Tony is no longer involved. 


Towards the end of last year, we listened to Tony Ennis of ecoLegacy speaking at the ICCM conference about his soon-to-be released new alternative to cremation. What he had to say to the packed conference room was so fascinating that the GFG decided we needed to know more. So on a chilly January morning, Fran hopped on a flight to Dublin to spend the day at the ecoLegacy HQ.

‘I have to say, I went to Dublin not really knowing what to expect. Everything I had heard from Tony made sense, I’d done lots of background reading about him and his project, and it all appears to be 100% genuine. But I also thought that this was too good to be true, and that there had to be a catch.

I have to report, dear reader, that if there is one, I haven’t found it. It is quite possible that I was privileged enough to be among the earliest people to be shown something that is groundbreaking – and game changing – for the ways that we deal with our dead.

Everything that I saw and was told makes sense. The people involved are passionate and genuine. Huge amounts of research have been done. Various processes have been trialled and found wanting, so the engineers started over and tried a different way until they found the solution. The potential issues with current law in the UK have been addressed. There are very eminent bodies overseeing and interested in what Tony is doing (his work is being overseen by Imperial College), and the main players in the funeral industry have all already been to Dublin to be shown the unit and given the tour as I was.

It seems to me that it’s simply a matter of time before the first ecoLegacy unit is available to UK clients – and probably not much time at that. Then we will see how the public respond to something completely new. My instinctive feeling is that it will be phenomenally successful.’

Read the information from ecoLegacy for yourself below.

And if you have any questions, write them in the comments. We’ll get Tony to respond.

“Basically, ecoLegacy has developed “cremation 2.0”, a next-generation, environmental and ethical alternative to burial and cremation called ecoLation. It will ensure a greener planet and cleaner air. The company has its headquarters in Ireland and is currently operating in the UK and the US.

The idea was inspired by Philip Backman, a US scientist and teacher, who came up with the original idea around 1971, the same year Tony Ennis was born. ecoLegacy’s goal is to make Phil’s vision a reality and scale it globally and this is currently happening with initial orders coming in from all across Europe and the US. (more info here

ecoLation is a flameless form of cremation. It has developed a thermal process that uses cold and heat and pressure. It reduces emissions and poisons from reentering the earth’s precious and delicate eco systems.It is respectful to the body, it is respectful to the family and it is respectful to the planet.

So what happens when a loved one dies and has chosen ecoLation?

First they cool the body to just the right temperature. The body is placed inside a pod, the temperature is lowered and the body is chilled.  Water is released back and forth over the body reducing the remains down into ice particles. These particles are filtered through to a unit that recreates the earth’s natural process that normally takes thousands of years.

All toxins and chemicals we build up while living are neutralised and the result is completely organic nutrient rich remains. A tiny seed – of a plant, a tree or a flower can be placed into this powder and, coupled with soil, water and love, you or your loved one can grow into a beautiful strong tree or your favorite flower.

In terms of efficiency, the unit uses electric energy to get up to temperature and to create the right conditions. However, as the remains are ecoLated, they break down on a molecular level and release a very clean bio gas. This gas is turned into heat energy which is then used to power the system.  Whilst there will always be an energy requirement, it is brought back as close to zero as possible through our technology.

In the next 70 years, the Earth’s population will reach and probably soar past 10 billion people.

ecoLegacy offers an ecological choice to funeral directors and families that will ensure a greener planet and cleaner air and thus a healthier ecosystem.

Unlike burial and cremation, ecoLation offers a pure, more sustainable choice and breathes new life into the earth in plant form.

In the next 100 years, at current rates, we will need to bury or cremate more than 10 billion people. A staggering 54% of the world’s population lives on just 3% of the land, in cities, where the urban landscape cannot accept further burial or afford the pollution side effects of burning our dead. Typically funeral home clients have the two standard alternatives presented to them, but from an environmental, ecological, ethical or indeed practical standpoint, neither of these two methods are sustainable for the long term.

Current burial rates are unsustainable in our modern world.  More and more we can detect the effects of burial from fluids leaching into our soil and water courses. This hazardous waste also contains embalming fluids and, in recent times, a huge degree of chemicals from end of life drugs administered. Not to be overlooked either are the harmful pathogens that live on after we die, or the veneer on the coffins etc. We are running out of space too.

Cremation, a method becoming more popular, has relatively high pollution levels,  releasing on average 400kg of CO2 per body into the atmosphere. Cremation is also responsible for a number of other pollutants and dioxins and of course it consumes fossil fuel in the form of either oil or gas.

ecoLation is clean. There are no emissions of harmful chemicals. The body is ethically treated and all metals and foreign compounds removed. There are no chemicals active, no diseases still alive, no issues in relation to leaching and no carbon / heavy metals or dioxins. The remains are totally sterile, totally natural and totally clean. It’s a new way to be remembered.”

Tony Ennis with one of the ecoLation pods



  1. Fran Hall

    “The potential issues with current law in the UK have been addressed.”

    I’d be very interested to know just how they have side-stepped the current regs. It all sounds too good to be true….

    1. Fran Hall

      Hi Nick, ecoLegacy hasn’t “side-stepped” any current regs. We have met many stakeholders from funeral directors and crematoria operators to relevant government bodies. We simply provide next generation technology to the funeral community, which will adhere to regulations.

      1. Fran Hall

        Thanks Mary. Forgive me for my “lack of grasp” on this point, but I understood the situation as far as Law currently allowed, was that the legal options were either burial or cremation, and cremation has to take place within a building licensed by the Home Office for that purpose. I’m not disparaging this new concept, but is certainly is neither burial, nor cremation. Resomation was also neither one nor t’other, which is why it could not be licensed in the UK.
        I’d be most interested to learn more….

        1. Fran Hall

          Hi Nick, happy to try and clarify a little more if it helps. We have engaged with the MoJ as well as other stakeholders. At the heart of our technology there is a thermal process that has no flames. The law states that cremation is the burning of the human body, but fails to stipulate with or without flame. In other countries (or indeed in some states in the US) there are explicit references to flame. However, where the word burning occurs we believe that we are compliant. So, in the eyes of the UK law, ecoLation is not illegal. Of course there are some regulatory points that we need to address, but we are confident that we will. We want to offer an amazing new technology that has no flames and no fumes. The environmental impacts are massive and we would like this to be a new choice for funeral directors, crematoria and the consumer. Hope that helps!

        2. Fran Hall

          Like Michael Jarvid (see below) I have an inner pedant. I understand the law says that bodies must be disposed of hygienically but is disinterested in the method that achieves this end. The Good Funeral Guide cites the case of Diogenes, the friiend of Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz who, legally it turned out, preserved and kept Diogenes’ dead body under the bed for years; Diogenes has been on exhibition tours in his court-tested state of ‘hygienic disposal’.
          So, I suggest, the only test of a method’s legality (apart from the regulatory points referred to) is that it ain’t dirty.

    2. Fran Hall

      This is a good example of how imprecise the word “address” can be when used as a verb without a qualifier. If I say ‘I have addressed my credit card bill’ I may mean ‘it’s on the top of the pile, Guv, honest !’, or, ‘I’ve paid it in full’. Or anywhere in between.

      1. Fran Hall

        Hi Mike, sorry for my inexact phraseology – my understanding of the situation is that the team at EcoLation are confident that their technology and the unit they are bringing to the market is in complete compliance with relevant regulations.

        Hope that makes it clearer.

  2. Fran Hall

    I am another sceptic. The ‘process’ as described here, seems a little vague, presumably this has been trialled on animals?

    I completely agree regarding burial, and cremation feels so last century, which of course it isn’t, it’s already the one before last, even in its present form.

    I would want/love to see a demonstration, including sight of the remains when the process is complete, but if it actually works, why not? Cremation in detail is horrible and terribly unfriendly to the planet.

    I don’t see parliament objecting if it works as described, public opinion is a little harder to gauge.

  3. Fran Hall

    I’m a bit confused as to what exactly the process is – I’ve watched the video ‘what is ecoLation’ and it seems to be very similar to promession – cooling the body enough so it breaks into small bits, drying it – presumably this is where the flameless burning comes in? Is it freeze and high heat rather than freeze and vibration? Does the body have to be removed from the coffin/container/pod? What’s the cost likely to be?

  4. Fran Hall

    The Good Funeral Guide is a regulated community interest company and it describes itself as follows:

    “We’re here for you, not them

    ~ We’re the consumer group that stands clear of the funeral industry. That’s what makes us different. ”

    I am sorry but this article and the following chit chat with ecoLegacy does not appear to meet those high standards.

    For the sake of the public, the article above needs some revision, deletion or a postscript. Take a look at the various documents on the application for planning exemption they made on August 2016 to South Dublin County Council ED16/0048 to do testing on pieces of meat from the butcher. They were told they needed planning permission. They did not apply again from that address. Shortly after that date, according to their website, they were promoting themselves at various trade events and stating that the technology was ready etc etc.

    Take a look also at the application made by the Glasnevin Trust to Fingal County Council for an ecoLation unit at Dardistown Crematorium. Further information on the process was asked on 23 June 2017. No reply yet. All the documents are on Fingal County Council website under planning application reference F17A/0244

    The article above does not tell us what you saw in Dublin. It is not really informative. It could be interpreted as misleading. It mentions oversight by Imperial College. They can only provide further detail to the potential “consumers” of ecoLation if you state the name of the academic you were told by ecoLegacy was involved.

    Please change this article if you can. It is not in the interest of the bereaved or the living that this is on here. It could mislead people who wish to express a wish for particular disposal method in their will and it could also waste the time of executors / bereaved finding out more at a time when they need to be grieving and making plans that are realistic and achievable. Thank you.

    1. Fran Hall

      Mary, forgive my confusion, but to clarify, are you saying that ecoLation is now proven unviable and the article should be removed to avoid misleading people, -or- are you saying the opposite, …..that the article is now out of date, and doesn’t reflect the advances since it was published?

      1. Fran Hall

        I am saying that there is no evidence yet provided anywhere that this process, whatever it is, is doable / has been done / exists other than as an idea. If you read the two applications to which I refer – all public documents online – you will see that there is no evidence that this process has even been done on a piece of meat from a butcher, a section of carcass, let alone a mammal skull which provides such good protection for a brain.

        ecoLegacy / Glasnevin Trust have had nearly 6 months to supply answers to the Fingal County Council planners about the process and they have not.

        This article and the subsequent discourse with Mary from ecoLegacy (not me!!) would lead a member of the public to believe that this process is perfected and on its way to market. Where is the evidence for this? It certainly is not in the two applications for which I have provided references — all public documents, take a read. The latest application to which I refer is May 2017 – after this article was written.

  5. Fran Hall

    Great to see the warning note up top about ecoLation and ecoLegacy on this article. Tony Ennis is still a director though even if “no longer involved?” Or are you suggesting that he is a dormant director – if ever there was such a thing in Irish company law?

    In Sevenoaks District, the planning applicant is someone called Steve Smith using an agent’s address — according to many objections he does not have a public interface and there is no clear information on the process he is proposing for Sevenoaks District. How can he think that the British public would express a wish for ecoLation in their wills or that executors would choose it for the deceased if they can’t explain it properly? And even if it were a great process that was tried and tested etc, who would choose to put it on the edge of a golf course? Bunkers, as a Times online commenter said a few weeks back.

    Good thing is, Sevenoaks DC has extended the decision deadline more than once now rather than just ecoLating this application on many clearcut planning grounds. So, the good people of Sevenoaks District still have a fantastic opportunity to continue having a good laugh about it all as it drags on well beyond its smell by date.

    If the SDC planners ever were to say yes, that would make good craic as it would so obviously be a flawed decision from so many angles. And if they say no, and ecoLegacy reapplies,yippee, more income for Sevenoaks DC at around £10,000 per application of this type. So, it’s win-win at Sevenoaks DC whatever happens next. Or maybe Steve Smith has the cash ready to appeal? I am sure an independent planning inspector would enjoy making mince meat of this application . The future’s bright.

  6. Fran Hall

    Jennifer Muldowney, it would seem, is not aware of the detail within ecoLation’s two Irish planning-related applications in August 2016 and May 2017. She spoke about ecoLation at the NFDA conference 2017 in Boston.

    I am sorry I do not know any of these funeral trade people or bodies so I leave it up to people reading and working on this website to draw their own conclusions and pass on information about the two Irish planning applications I have referred to in earlier comments on this blog posting to any people and organisations in Ireland, UK, US who they think should take a careful and critical reading of all the publicly accessible documents contained within them.

    The main messages from these two applications are, in my opinion:

    – there is no proper R and D facility for ecoLation by ecoLegacy

    – the process described in the Fingal County Council planning application is not well described and is different from the process described in the simplistic computer animation on the ecoLegacy website – it includes pyrolysis and/or gasification and needs to make use of the crematorium chimney for significant amounts of steam and maybe other waste products too

    – they have failed, as yet, to provide any of the information required by Fingal County Council on the process etc. This was requested 23 June 2017. The application will lapse 23 December 2017

    – none of this fits with the various claims on the blog articles on their website about orders, delivery slots etc etc

    As regards being able to easily break up a body which has been frozen to a low temperature – e.g. -196 C with liquid nitrogen, I would suggest that you take a search on Youtube for various crazy videos that chefs and others have done of cutting up a leg of beef frozen in liquid nitrogen with a meat cleaver, dropping a liquid nitrogen frozen turkey from roof of building etc. Yes the product is brittle and it breaks in two with the force, and some smaller pieces crack off. But it would take a lot of repeated force to break a whole human body, including the skull, down into small pieces.

    Then these small pieces need drying and “neutralising”. No coherent explanation is given about this in the little video on the website or in the planning application. The video even claims all this can be done within 1 hour.

  7. Fran Hall

    GFG, thanks for pointing everyone to Mary’s points. Great thing about the web is that info that would have been buried away locally on bits of paper is now available world-wide with minimal googling.

    What is this planning application game ecoLegacy and the Glasnevin Trust appear to be playing with Fingal County Council? They have not provided any further information. The 6 month date for a response is this Saturday 23 December. They now have a further time extension of 3 months. What’s cooking?

    Dardistown Crematorium looks like a lovely new facility built by the Glasnevin Trust, a huge, historic charity with a fantastic international reputation. If they need a second cremator of some sort in there, sure they should apply to install something tried and tested which meets well respected international standards – not join in with ecoLegacy on a trip with technology that maybe isn’t ready; the application for planning exemption to South Dublin County Council in August 2016 for an R and D unit, which then never happened, tells a story as does the lack of reply to Fingal CoCo’s questions.

    The information on the plant, machinery, equipment, process etc in the planning application is very patchy in many respects and they are fortunate that Fingal County Council’s questions are not even more searching than they are. ecoLegacy appears to be treating the international public’s scientific understanding and the Irish planning system with total disdain while promoting themselves in the US, where Irish roots are so popular with a large minority, as having fantastic green, clean technology ready for market.

    If GFG thinks that the issue in England with hospice funerals could maybe bring certain charities into disrepute, this is another example of that possibility over the water. Glasnevin Trust should think again about whether to leave this running and running in their name.

    Wealthy private investors can look after themselves and walk into investments like this with their eyes open. Using a charity sucks.

  8. Fran Hall

    According to the online planning applications, the application by Steve Smith for an ecoLation unit etc to Sevenoaks DC has very recently been withdrawn and the application to Fingal County Council by the Glasnevin Trust for an ecoLation unit at Dardistown Crematorium has been given 3 more months for the applicant to answer the request for further information.

  9. Fran Hall

    The planning application by Glasnevin Trust to
    Fingal County Council for one ecoLation unit to be installed at the Dardistown Crematorium has now gone beyond the 30 March extended deadline for more information on the ecoLation process to be supplied. The applicant has written in to explain that the technology provider (ecoLegacy) has not been able, for reasons beyond the control of the Glasnevin Trust, to supply any further information on the process. The applicant is asking Fingal County Council to consider tha other parts of the planning application without the ecoLation unit.

  10. Fran Hall

    The planning application to Fingal County Council F17A/0244 has now been decided – according to the free to view planning application documentation on the council website.

    It has been approved and if one doesn’t read the detail carefully, the front page of the online planning file would signal to the average reader that the ecolation unit is approved. This is NOT the case – a careful read of the online documentation is needed in order not to make this incorrect assumption.

    The approval for the application was made subject to certain conditions – and one of these conditions is that the ecolation unit does NOT go ahead. The reason for this is that the technology provider (one assumes this is ecoLegacy as the details of the process submitted in the application documents have the ecoLegacy logo etc all over them) did not provide the information requests by Fingal County Council (FCC) in the FCC letter of 23 June 2017.

    This is not stated as the reason in the conditions of planning approval – instead it says “for clarity” or such-like – but a read through of the various items of correspondence between the council and the agent of the applicant (Glasnevin Trust) helps the reader to quickly establish the full facts.

    There is a sense of inevitable predictability with these ecolation planning applications which slowly lead to a dead end. But it all remains puzzling, nevertheless.

  11. Fran Hall

    From the Sunday Times, July 8 2018, “Put on ice” :

    “… Last month, the High Court Judge Deirdre Murphy ordered that Ecolegacy should be wound up and a liquidator should investigate payments made to Ennis and Brian McKimm, the company’s erstwhile chief operating officer who was formerly bankrupt in Northern Ireland.

    Ecolegacy was “brought to its knees … by the mismanagement and intransigence of Tony Ennis” and the potential misappropriation of company funds, said the judge. The ecolation unit in the company’s west Dublin warehouse cost 2.2m euro but is not fit for purpose and is worth about 300,000 euros as spare parts.”

    I wonder how they spent 2.2m euro on an “ecolation” unit and how, with no possible product to carry out the process in the manner described in the sci-fi video, the whole thing could ever have ended other than with ecoLegacy on its knees.

    And they never even had planning permission to do it on so much as a pork chop.

    Deirdre Murphy should be impressed that Anthony Ennis did not follow entirely in the footsteps of Susanne Wiigh-Masak’s footsteps – the high priestess of Promession. She supported the notion of people putting Promession in their wills and several were held in deep freezers for many years after their death while the relatives hoped that the promised imminent arrival of a promator in Sweden would permit them to give their deceased loved ones their wished for disposal method. She campaigned tirelessly for them to remain in freezers rather than be forcibly buried when the Swedish state withdrew the exemption because the promator was not materialising. But, like Mr Ennis, she never came up with the goods.

    It seems from this article that Mr Ennis instead focused his energies on wealthy live Americans keen to invest in his “thriving” venture.

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