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Ashes to ashes: second US state legalizes composting of human remains
30 April 2021, 17:16
Ashes to ashes: second US state legalizes composting of human remains
Photo: Recompose
If the local governor signs the bill, Colorado, following Washington, will allow corpses to be turned into soil, and any resident of the state can, after death, become land in a garden or a park.

Two years ago, Washington became the first American state to legally allow composting after death. Authorities in Oregon, California and New York are currently considering the proposal, and the governor of Colorado has promised to sign the bill in the coming days, according to The New York Times. So soon, human remains will be added to the usual materials for the production of soil such as food waste and biodegradable dishes in Colorado, and any resident of the state who is not comfortable with cremation and burial, after death, can become, for example, land in a city park.

The bill was submitted for consideration last year, but the pandemic froze the work of the local Capitol. After the sessions resumed, the proposal was resurrected, so to speak. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he will sign the project: “What could be more personal than the right to decide how to deal with your own body after death? And this bill gives people another alternative". In the state Senate, the bill received bipartisan support. The 18 votes against in the House of Representatives were from Republicans, who expressed concern that composting is not a “decent” way to dispose of the remains, and recalled that such a practice is not supported by the Catholic Church.

Recompose composts in Washington State. The technology looks like this in short. The body is placed inside a steel cylinder about 2.5 meters long and 1.2 meters high, on a bed of wood chips, alfalfa and straw. The process of "recomposition", as composting is also called, takes about 30 days for one person. The output is about 0.8 cubic meters of soil. In the process, the company's employees mix the remains, so that in the end all organic matter, including bones and teeth, turns to dust. Inorganic materials such as prostheses and artificial joints are removed from the cylinder and removed. The sale or use of soil obtained from human remains to grow food will be prohibited under the new law. However, it can be used in public places like parks and squares. Recompose is currently looking for a location in the Denver area to build a 50-cylinder plant.


Colorado residents are already interested in the innovation. The state is known for its natural diversity, there are many mountains and forests, developed agriculture, and a high-tech economy. The idea of composting is close to liberal-minded people because of the environmental friendliness of this method: during cremation and burial, one metric ton more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere than during composting. The more conservative farmers and ranchers love the prospect of being part of the land they were born and raised on.