Lawmakers in Washington state passed a bill Friday that would allow human remains to be composted.
If Gov. Jay Inslee signs Senate Bill 5001 into law, it will take effect May 1, 2020.
Currently in Washington, bodies can either be cremated or buried. The process of recomposition provides a third option that speeds up the process of turning dead bodies into soil, a practice colloquially known as “human composting.” The bill describes the process as a “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.”
The process of recomposition essentially turns dead bodies into soil, a practice colloquially known as “human composting.” According to the bill’s language, this is the practice of “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.”
“It’s about time we apply some technology, allow some technology to be applied to this universal human experience … because we think that people should have the freedom to determine for themselves how they’d like their body to be disposed of,” he said.
How human composting works
She explained to KIRO the complex process of turning a dead body into soil.
“(The) body is covered in natural materials, like straw or wood chips, and over the course of about three to seven weeks, thanks to microbial activity, it breaks down into soil,” she said.
While the body is being broken down, she said, families of the deceased can visit the facility and will ultimately receive the soil that remains. It’s up to the family to determine how they want to use that soil.
“And if they don’t want that soil, we’ll partner with local conservation groups around the Puget Sound region so that that soil will be used to nourish the land here in the state,” she said.
The process was the focus of a study at Washington State University in which six people donated their bodies for research, KIRO reported.
“We proved recomposition was indeed safe and effective for humans as well,” Spade said.
The average burial, KIRO said, can cost between $8,000 and $25,000. Cremation can top $6,000. Spade said she hopes to charge about $5,500 for human composting.
Human composting supporter Leslie Christian told the affiliate it’s an attractive option from an environmental perspective. She said a lot of people approve of the process, including her brother, who told her he wants his soil to be used to plant tomatoes.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.