Oregon could become the second state in the nation to legalize turning human remains into soil.
A new bill currently in the Oregon House of Representatives would make it legal to dispose of dead bodies by means of "human composting," as well as alkaline hydrolysis, or aqua-cremation.
Yesterday, more than 80 Oregonians testified at a public hearing on House Bill 2574. Sponsored by Reps. Pam Marsh and Brian L. Clem, the bill would legalize alternatives to cremation and embalming. Public testimony overwhelmingly supported the bill, and many people who provided comment said they hoped to one day use human composting services for their own remains.
If "human composting" sounds like something from a sci-fi B movie, wait until you hear what aqua cremation entails—though, to be fair, the realities of traditional cremation are pretty gory.
According to the bill now in the Oregon House, alkaline hydrolysis takes place in a "dissolution chamber," which is used to "reduce human remains to bone fragments and essential elements." The process takes just a few weeks.
Hydrolysis has gained traction over the past few years as a more eco-friendly alternative to cremation or embalming. In 2019, Washington became the first state to legalize human composting. The law took effect in 2020, and by the end of last year, the first licensed organic reduction facilities began accepting bodies.
If legalized here in Oregon, human composting could begin as soon as next year.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly conflated human composting and alkaline hydrolysis. WW regrets this error.