Back to Earth: Washington set to allow human composting

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In this Friday, April 19, 2019, photo Katrina Spade, the founder and CEO of Recompose, displays a sample of the compost material left from the decomposition of a cow, using a combination of wood chips, alfalfa and straw, as she poses in a cemetery in Seattle. Spade hopes to use the process, which accelerates natural […]

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington is set to become the first state to allow a burial alternative known as “natural organic reduction” – an accelerated process of decomposition that turns a body into soil in a matter of weeks.

The bill legalizing the process, sometimes referred to as human composting, has passed the Legislature and is headed to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee.

The measure’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle, said that a low environmental impact way to dispose of remains makes sense, especially in crowded urban areas. His measure also authorizes the use of alkaline hydrolysis – already used in 19 other states – which uses heat, pressure, water, and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.

If signed by Inslee, the new law would take effect May 1, 2020.

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