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Colorado legislature passes bill to allow human composting

Colorado legislature passes bill to allow human composting
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Both chambers of the Colorado legislature have passed a bill legalizing the composting of human remains as an after-death alternative to burial and cremation, sending the measure to the desk of Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado legislature approves measure to ban styrofoam, add fee to single use products Colorado to offer ,000 scholarships for young people to get vaccinated Supreme Court justice denies Colorado churches' challenge to lockdown authority MORE (D) for his signature.

“What can be more personal than the right to decide how your own body is dispensed with after death, and this bill empowers individuals with another choice and I will sign it," Polis told The Hill on Thursday.
 
The Colorado House passed the bill on Tuesday on a 45-18 vote. It passed unanimously through the state Senate in March.

The legislation authorizes human remains to be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as "natural reduction.”

It also places certain restrictions on the soil, including selling the soil or using it to grow food for human consumption. It also prohibits the commingling of human remains without their consent.

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Human composting, or “natural organic reduction,” takes four weeks and is done by placing a dead person's body in a vessel with wood chips, straw and other materials while rotating the body every so often. The process is similar to livestock composting and turns the person into an odorless soil that can then be given back to the family, according to a report from The Associated Press.

Current state law dictates burial, cremation, internment and entombment, but the new legislation would replace these terms with "final disposition," which includes natural reduction. These laws dictate everything from life insurance, pension plans and even missing person reports. 

The bill was first introduced last year by state Rep. Brianna Titone (D) before it was pushed aside amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Denver Post reported.

“I’m just really proud to give this option to people here in Colorado, which have the Colorado way of life in mind … And when people pass away, they can feel like they lived in Colorado and they can give back to Colorado and help the earth,” she said.

The Denver Post noted that the bill would go into effect 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns when Polis signs it. However, funeral homes will not be ready immediately to begin offering the service.

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Colorado would be the second state in the country to legalize the process of natural reduction if the legislation goes into effect. Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBeyond California, a record year for recalls Seattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience MORE (D) made his the first state to legalize human composting in 2019.

Similar bills have also been introduced by state lawmakers in Delaware and Oregon.

- Updated Thursday at 12:28 p.m.