State Watch

Inslee signs bill to make Washington first state to legalize human composting

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill Tuesday making the Evergreen State the first in the nation to legalize human composting.

The bill will take effect on May 1, 2020, and recognizes “natural organic reduction” and a process commonly known as “liquid cremation” as legal means of disposing of human bodies. Washington state law previously permitted only burial and cremation.

{mosads}The bill passed with large bipartisan majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Inslee, who is running for president, has cast environmental issues as the cornerstone of his White House bid.

Washington state already has multiple “green cemeteries” that bury people without embalming, caskets and headstones. However, the bill’s signature Tuesday paves the way for Recompose, a project that seeks to build the nation’s first urban “organic reduction” funeral home, according to The Seattle Times.

Recompose would be similar to a crematorium, but it uses a longer and less carbon-intensive means of organic reduction, commonly known as composting. The process uses wood chips, straw and other materials and takes about four weeks. It is similar to livestock composting, which farmers use to turn animals into odorless soil.

Designer Katrina Spade, who started Recompose as a nonprofit in 2014, told the Times that a 2018 test on the remains of six people who supported the Recompose idea and had donated their remains for its research resulted in clean soil that passed federal and state guidelines for potentially hazardous pathogens and pollutants.

Recompose is already in talks with the state Department of Licensing and the Funeral and Cemetery Board. It hopes to have its first facility with 20 to 25 “vessels” established by late 2020.

Tags Human composting Jay Inslee Washington

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