WA may become the first state in the nation to compost the dead

WSU professor behind the research
WA may become the first state in the nation to compost the dead

Washington state may become the first state in the nation to compost the dead. It’s called “recomposing” and supporters sya it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional burial or cremation. It involves rapidly decomposing a body and converting the remains into soil. That nutrient-rich material can then be used to grow trees, flowers, and other new life.

Jamie Pederson, a Democrat from the 43rd district, which covers part of Seattle, says he’ll propose a new law soon that would legalized recomposing. If it passes, it would become a third way to dispose of human remains, after burial or cremation.

The company “Recompose,” would be responsible for the actual composting. They say conventional burial and cremation have high carbon footprints. They are also more expensive. Burial can cost upwards of $7,000 while composting a body, according to the company, would only cost $5,500.

Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State University, is the head of research at Recompose.

The process she used with 6 donor bodies takes a 5-foot-by-10-foot pod full of organic “tinder” such as straw and wood chips to heat a “vessel” to 131 degrees. The body placed inside takes one month to decompose and produces a cubic yard of compost.

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