Washington could soon become the first state to permit human composting, which is considered more environment-friendly than burials or cremation that releases earth-warming carbon dioxide.
State Senator and Democrat Jamie Pedersen is sponsoring a bill in Washington’s Legislature including the option for disposing of human remains. Pedersen is likely to introduce the bill early next month as the new legislative session begins.
“People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves,” said Pedersen.
If the bill is passed, Washington will become the 17th state to allow dissolving of bodies in a pressurized vessel with water and lye, a process called alkaline hydrolysis.
Recomposition is “an environmental and a social justice issue”, according to Pedersen. He believes it would benefit people who can’t afford a funeral or don’t prefer a cremation.
“The advantage that I see as a soil scientist and an environmental scientist is that it is relatively low in resource use and it also creates this soil-like or compost-like product that helps to store carbon,” said researcher Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, associate professor of sustainable and organic agriculture at Washington State.
In 2017, Pedersen presented another version of the bill which included alkaline hydrolysis but not recomposition, however it failed to pass. He had attributed the failure to the opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.
Having signed up several co-sponsors of the bill in the state Senate, Pedersen is now optimistic about the passage of the bill.