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Human composting bill passes in southern state

A headstone in a cemetery. (Unsplash)
June 19, 2024

Governor Katie Hobbs (D-Ariz.) signed House Bill 2081 and Senate Bill 1042 into law earlier this year, granting rights to accredited funeral providers to provide terramation services, also known as human composting.

The bill was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Laurin Hendrix and Republican state Sen. T.J. Shope. While the practice of human composting remains controversial, the method is gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional funerals.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, over half of Americans polled expressed interest in “green” funeral practices.

As Americans become more environmentally conscious, many are seeking alternatives to more common funeral processes that involve chemically preserving the body before burial. For others, the reduced cost of “green” funerals is attractive, while many resonate spiritually with the process of “returning to the earth.”

Jake Hinman, a lobbyist for Natural Organic Reduction of Arizona, stated that allowing people more freedom in funeral options is the goal of the legislation.

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“This is all about choice,” Hinman told The Post Millennial. “If this process doesn’t make sense to you, there are many other options out there for your loved ones, but for those that this does make a lot of sense to, we just want to have this option for Arizonans, and it’s really as simple as that.”

During the terramation process, a body is placed in a large, reusable tank with other natural materials designed to facilitate the decomposition process. Over a period of about six weeks, the contents of the tank are exposed to warm air and regularly turned to further encourage the natural breakdown of the body. Once the decomposition process is complete, the family of the loved one has the option of collecting the material to create a memory garden or to retain the remains in containers similar to cremation ashes.

Washington became the first state to legalize the terramation process in 2019, followed by Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, New York, and Nevada.

According to Recompose, a human composting funeral provider in Washington, only three diseases are exclusionary to the process: ebola, active tuberculosis, and prion diseases. The composting process utilizes heat of a sufficient degree to neutralize all other disease transfer risks from the resulting material.