Oregon could become second state to allow human composting

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CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Known for their passion for environmentally friendly pursuits such as recycling, Oregonians could take those commitments to the grave if state lawmakers pass a bill allowing human composting as an alternative to traditional burial or cremation.

House bill 2574, sponsored by representatives Pam Marsh and Brian L. Clem, would allow bodies to be disposed of by alternative processes, including natural organic reduction — colloquially known as human composting. It also clarifies rules surrounding alkaline hydrolysis, known as aqua cremation, and extends other funeral industry privileges and responsibilities to include reduction.

The bill was slated for a public hearing Monday afternoon in the House Committee on Business and Labor.

Nearly 100 people had submitted written testimony as of Monday morning, overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. Most cited environmental reasons for their desire to be composted; cremation uses more energy than composting, and traditional burial involves harsh chemicals and takes up land.

“Knowing that my remains could benefit the environment that has given me so much joy over the years gives me peace,” wrote Milwaukie resident Darin MacRae.

If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2022, and would make Oregon the second state in the nation to permit the practice.

Washington became the first state to allow natural organic reduction in 2020. In late December, two facilities received their first bodies, and the process officially got underway.

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