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Human compost: Washington State legalized this transformation


About human compost

After their death, Washington residents will now be able to choose to be composted, an environmentally friendly alternative to burial or cremation.

The law authorising "natural organic reduction" was adopted at the end of April by the legislature of the state of Washington.

It was promulgated on Tuesday by the Democratic governor.

"Human compost", "Re-composting", "Humusation": whatever you want to call it.

He practice of turning the body of a deceased person into compost is now legal in the northwestern US state of Washington.

SB 5001, which aims to bring about this alternative to burial and cremation, has passed almost all stages of the Washington State legislature.

Passed on 9 April by the House of Representatives by a vote of 36 to 11, then on 19 April by the Senate by a vote of 38 to 11.

Human compost: Washington State has legalized this transformation

He bill was signed into law on Tuesday by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

"Well, this is exciting," Katrina Spade, founder of the company Recompose, said on Twitter.

Since the ratification of the bill, the company will be able to "gently convert human remains into soil" within a month.

It was by enclosing a corpse in a large container of alfalfa, straw and wood chips, she told the Washington Post.

In her view, allowing "re-composting" in Washington state would pave the way for "a future where our end-of-life choices help heal the planet".

One month in the US... one year in Belgium

The ecological argument is indeed the main driving force behind the advocates of "Humusation", in the United States and elsewhere.

In Belgium, the foundation "Metamorphosis to die... and then give life".

Also, it mentions on its website "a gentle, respectful and sustainable process of returning to the earth".

The process, the foundation explains, would consist of depositing the body in a compost made up of shredded pruning wood.

Then covered with a layer of shredded plant matter, all on a reserved and secure plot of land.

Within a year, the remains would be transformed into "healthy and fertile humus", she claims.

In France, the subject has already been raised by a member of parliament, but without any concrete follow-up for the moment.

In March 2016, Elisabeth Lamure, questioned the Ministry of the Interior on "the government's position on the possible legalisation of humusation".

Stressing that the introduction of such a practice into domestic law 'would raise important questions.

The ministry considered that these questions required 'in-depth reflection, which could be pursued within the framework of the .National Council for Funeral Operations. (CNOF)'.

A start-up has already patented a technique

This technique "is natural, safe, sustainable, and allows for significant savings in land use", adds the American Katrina Spade, who has promoted the law to local elected officials.


The young woman became passionate about these alternatives to burial more than ten years ago and created the Seattle-based company Recompose.

Which has developed a patented human composting process that she is about to market.

According to the company's details, the process simply involves accelerating the natural decomposition process of the body.

That is by placing it with straw, wood shavings, and alfalfa  in a container.

Where the ideal conditions of humidity and oxygenation are created for the bacteria to do their work.

After 30 days, the families of the deceased receive about 0.65 cubic metres of enriched soil.

"The material we give back to the families is very similar to the soil you might buy in your local nursery," says the start-up.

Humusation: A practice banned in France

This development is part of a rapid change in attitudes towards the care of the bodies of the deceased.

According to a study commissioned in 2018 by the National Association of Funeral Directors,  they were interested in eco-friendly care of their bodies after death.

Burials have already become the number two choice for Americans: the cremation rate exceeded 50% in 2016.

This return of the body to the earth is not authorised in France. Current legislation only allows burial and cremation, when questioned on the issue in 2016.

Interior Ministry replied that its introduction would raise important questions, particularly with regard to .legal status lack of the particles resulting from this technique.

Also, its compatibility with the article of the civil code requiring that the remains of deceased persons be "treated with respect, dignity. and decency".

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