A bill to allow human remains to be used for compost has passed through the state House of Representatives in Delaware. Rep. Sean Lynn, a Democrat from Dover, introduced the legislation to authorize a practice known as “natural organic reduction” or “human composting.”
Mr. Lynn argued that the process of turning human remains into soil is a “sophisticated” one that “applies cutting-edge technology and engineering.” He claimed that testing in other states revealed that the resulting soil is high quality and regenerative.
Human composting is legal in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, New York, and Nevada and passed through the Delaware House by 37 votes to 2.
The process of human composting involves placing a dead human body inside a vessel with biodegradable materials, allowing the body to decompose quickly. Advocates say it will help combat climate change, which they say is exacerbated by traditional cremations that emit the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as a 417-mile drive.
Washington was the first US state to allow the practice, and the first facility opened its doors in 2021. Katrina Spade founded Recompose as a “full-service funeral home specializing in human composting.”
The organization states that healthy soil is vital and regulates moisture, sequesters carbon, and sustains plant and animal life. It says its human composting process allows people to “give back to the earth that nourishes all our lives.”
The Recompose funeral home is dominated by a large honeycomb-like structure into which the human remains are placed. Each hexagonal compartment contains soil and biodegradable materials, and the bodies are placed inside them. The first remains were “laid in” on December 20, 2020, which Katrina Spade described as a landmark moment.
The composting process takes around 30 days to complete, and when that happens, family members have the option of keeping the soil containing the remains of their loved one or donating it to ecological projects. Spade said most people decide to donate the soil.