Brown signs human composting bill

Eugene Masonic Cemetery will be looking into what this new law means for them.

Posted: Jun 17, 2021 12:18 PM
Updated: Jun 17, 2021 5:59 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed a bill passed by the Legislature legalizing human composting.

Brown signed House Bill 2574 on Tuesday, which will legalize what’s also known as natural organic reduction, KOIN-TV reported

Rep. Pam Marsh, from in Southern Jackson County, who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Brian Clem, said she decided to sponsor the bill because her constituents are interested in alternative after-death options.

“My colleagues could see as well that in addition to providing families with a choice, it also is a business opportunity,” she said.

At Eugene Masonic Cemetery at University Street and E. 25th Avenue, natural burials have been the norm since the 1800s. That’s when bodies are buried without containers or caskets.

Sally Dietrich, cemetery sexton, said people sometimes choose this option because it’s better for the environment and they view it is a more peaceful option. Dietrich said the cemetery will be looking into what this new composting law means for them.

“Now that it's going to be a possibility, I’m sure I will get questions about that, and I suppose we'll have to look at how we would accommodate that,” Dietrich said. “I think it'd be a really interesting conversation.”

The process to compost a body can be lengthy. In both Washington and Oregon, a site also must be licensed in order to house bodies that go through the decomposition process to become compost soil.

Dietrich said there’s environmental benefits to alternative burials.

“Obviously, we run out of land eventually and the idea of burying you permanently in the ground? Like, what's that going to look like for the future? So, this opens up different possibilities of what cemeteries and people and cities might do,” Dietrich said.

The new legislation also clarifies rules surrounding alkaline hydrolysis, known as aqua cremation. The law goes into effect July 1, 2022.


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