On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5001, “concerning human remains,” making Washington the first state in the U.S. to legalize human composting.
The law, which takes effect May 1, 2020, recognizes “natural organic reduction” and alkaline hydrolysis (sometimes called “liquid cremation”) as acceptable means of disposition for human bodies.
The bill had passed both legislative chambers with ample, bipartisan majorities: 80-16 in the House and 38-11 in the Senate.
This paves the way for Recompose, a project to build the first urban “organic reduction” funeral home in the country.
Washington already has several “green cemeteries,” such as White Eagle Memorial Preserve in Klickitat County, where people can be buried without embalming, caskets or headstones.
The Recompose model is more like an urban crematorium (bodies go in, remains come out), but using the slower, less carbon-intensive means of “organic reduction,” or composting.
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a soil scientist at Washington State University, says that practice can turn a 1,500-pound steer — bones and all — into clean, odorless soil in a matter of months. »