Back to the Earth: Washington set to allow human composting

Gravestone in a graveyard
Posted at 11:10 AM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 13:10:02-04

OLYMPIA, Washington — 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.