Delaware Legislature Passes Bill to Legalize Composting Human Bodies

The Delaware legislature has passed a bill to legalize the composting of human bodies.

The bill explains that composting human remains “uses large vessels to hold human remains together with straw, wood chips, or other natural materials for about 30 days.”

Supporters of human composting argue that it is an “environmentally sustainable and cost-effective alternative” to traditional burial and cremation.

According to a report from the Washington Times, “Those who died from a radiological accident or incident, those with radioactive implants and those who died infected with prion disease, Ebola, tuberculosis or any other disease that could survive the composting process will not be legally compostable.”

The Delaware House approved the bill 37-2 in January, and the state Senate passed it 14-7 on Thursday.

The bill will now move to Democrat Governor John Carney’s desk for approval.

Human composting is legal in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, New York, and Nevada.

It was legalized in New York in 2023.

At the time, the New York State Catholic Conference vehemently opposed the bill.

“Composting is something we as a society associate with a sustainable method of eliminating organic trash that otherwise ends up in landfills. But human bodies are not household waste, and the bishops do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains,” Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, told the Catholic Courier.

“Like most bills in Albany, there were no public hearings allowing New Yorkers to weigh in on the pros and cons of the bill. It was all done behind closed doors,” Poust added. “The average New Yorker has no idea this bill was introduced, let alone passed. While it has been covered here and there in the press, it has received very little attention, which is troubling, because we certainly think that new methods of disposition of human remains ought to be talked about in society, and the public should have a chance to consider if this is a direction we want to go.”

Recompose is a Seattle funeral home that composts humans. It charges $7,000 and boasts that it can turn the deceased into soil in “as little as 30 days.”

The funeral home’s website explains that they offer a “laying in” ceremony when the body is placed in a vessel to compost.

“When you arrive at Recompose Seattle, you will be greeted by a member of our Services team who will guide you to the Gathering Space. Your person’s body will be in view when you walk into the Gathering Space, laying on a dark green bed we call a cradle, draped in a natural cloth,” the website explains.” The cradle will be stationed in front of our white, hexagonal threshold vessel, which is a passageway to our vessel system. A Recompose Services Specialist will guide you through the ceremony from start to finish.”

The company claims that “for every person who chooses Recompose over conventional burial or cremation, one metric ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere. In addition, our approach to human composting requires 1/8 the energy of conventional burial or cremation. Recompose allows you to choose an end-of-life option that strengthens the environment rather than depleting it.”

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