Great Britain

‘Compost funerals’ where loved ones break down over 30 days set to launch in Washington

HUMAN composting will be better for the environment than cremation and available in the US from next year, the firm that developed it has said.

The process, engineered by Washington-based funeral company Recompose, allows a body to break down gradually over 30 days, and stops more than a tonne of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

The service is the first of its kind, and is set to be on offer in Washington state from February 2020, the BBC reports.

The composting sees a body laid in a container with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw grass and slowly rotated to help the process of decay.

At the end of the process, relatives can collect the remains to be scattered like ashes after a cremation.

Speaking to the BBC, Recompose chief executive and founder Katrina Spade said that environmental concerns had been part of her motivation for developing the burial method.

"There is a loving practicability to it," she said.

"When I die, this planet, which has protected and supported me my whole life, shouldn't I give back what I have left?

"It is just logical and also beautiful."


Spade said developing the process had required four years of research to ensure all the products of the decay were safe, and that it had now been piloted on six volunteers.

She said it saved 1.4 tonnes of carbon emissions compared to a cremation, and a similar amount compared to burials given factors like emissions from the manufacture of coffins.

She said the company had had a lot of interest from people who want to minimise their carbon footprint both while they are alive and after they die.

"So far 15,000 people have signed up to our newsletter," she said.

"The legislation to allow this in the state received bi-partisan support enabling it to pass the first time it was tabled.

"The project has moved forward so quickly because of the urgency of climate change and the awareness we have to put it right."

Spade hopes that once human composting is being carried out in Washington, it could spread to other states and around the world.

"We hope to open branches overseas when we can," she said.

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