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Washington State May Become First in Nation to Legalize Human Composting

Legislators in Washington State finalized their approval of bill 5001 (titled “concerning human remains”), which enshrines “organic reduction” and alkaline hydrolysis, a dissolving process sometimes called “liquid cremation,” as acceptable alternatives to traditional burial and cremation.

If Gov. Jay Inslee signs the bill, the law will take affect May 1, 2020.

Human composting being legalized is a longtime hope for Seattle-based Katrina Spade, and is another step in a years-long effort to realize her vision for an urban, soil-based, ecologically friendly death-care option. She is the founder and CEO of Recompose, which aspires to be the first “natural organic reduction” funeral home in the U.S.

According to the Seattle Times, studies done on bodies decomposed in soil show that the resulting compost met — and sometimes exceeded — state and federal safety standards for pathogens and metals that could be dangerous to humans, animals, or nearby plants. (Also important: The soil smelled like soil and nothing else.) That's good to know!

If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Inslee, Spade hopes to have the first Recompose Facility ready by late 2020 or early 2021.

Image Credit: Molt Studios

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