Smiths Falls company that dissolves the dead has licence suspended

A Smith Falls, Ont., bio-cremation company that offers what it calls an "eco-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation or casket burials" has had its operating licence suspended.

Suspension of bio-cremation company's licence in 'public interest,' province's bereavement authority says

Dale Hilton shows off the pressurized stainless steel chamber where the 'bio-cremation' process takes place at his Smiths Falls, Ont., business. The company has had its operating licence suspended. (Stu Mills/CBC)

UPDATE: On Feb. 8, 2018, Hilton's Aquagreen Dispositions filed an appeal against the suspension. A date has not been set yet for the hearing.

UPDATE #2: On. Feb. 24, 2018, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario said the company had dropped its appeal.


A Smith Falls, Ont., bio-cremation company that offers what it calls an "eco-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation or casket burials" has had its operating licence suspended.

The Bereavement Authority of Ontario suspended the licence for Hilton's Aquagreen Dispositions Jan. 24.

"The immediate suspension is believed to be in the public interest," the authority wrote in a brief statement. "The past conduct of the licensee and interested persons are believed to be inconsistent with the legal criteria for continued licensure."

Hilton's Aquagreen Dispositions uses a process that blends water with an alkali solution of potassium hydroxide to break human bodies down to bone ash. The company came under fire in 2016 when it was revealed the liquid byproduct is then drained into the town's sewage system.

"Bio Cremation has the smallest environmental impact on our planet. Therefore, if you are looking for the most eco-friendly end of life option, Bio Cremation may be the best choice for you," the company's website suggests.

Funeral director must be present

But Carey Smith, the bereavement authority's registrar and CEO, said because there's no casket involved in the process — instead, the body is placed in a pressurized stainless steel chamber — there are special considerations.

"Someone actually has to handle the deceased person and put them into the process, and because of that we require a funeral director to handle the process," Smith told CBC.

Smith said the authority believes Hilton's Aquagreen Dispositions did not always have a funeral director present during cremations.

"It's pretty straightforward: to do processing in this type of facility you need to have a Class 1 funeral director on site to make sure the deceased individual is handled properly and with dignity."

Smith said the authority has received no reports that bodies were handled inappropriately.

'Heartbreaking' for families

Company owner Dale Hilton said the suspension is unwarranted, and blamed it on changing regulations. He called the suspension a "setback," and said he plans to be back in business as soon as he can afford to.

"Can't do nothing till you have a lawyer, so it costs me money. My business is out of operation and I'm sitting here with bills that need to be paid," Hilton told CBC.

"It's kind of heartbreaking for families that want to use this green technology, but now they're not allowed to."

Hilton said the company has performed 600 cremations using the process. The company's similar service for pet cremations will continue to operate. 

Hilton has 15 days from the date of the licence suspension to appeal.