From the almost “Soylent Green” department.
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Breitbart – the text of the bill makes it clear the new law is to save energy and improve the environmental friendliness of disposing of dead people.
From the bill;
SENATE BILL REPORT ESSB 5001
As Passed Senate, February 6, 2019 Title: An act relating to human remains.
Brief Description: Concerning human remains.
Brief Summary of Engrossed First Substitute Bill
- Adds alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction as allowable reduction methods for handling deceased persons’ bodies for their disposition.
- Provides licensing and inspection regulations for reduction facilities.
- Updates statutes governing the disposition of human remains and facilities offering these services to include alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony on Original Bill: The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: Everyone faces the decision of how to dispose of human remains. For a world that has been remade by technology, making many things better, cheaper and environmentally friendly, it is pretty astonishing that in 2019 we are left with two legal ways to dispose of human remains; both of which that have been around for thousands of years. This bill will allow two additional ways that are both cheaper, accessible to more people, and more environmentally friendly. Alkaline hydrolysis produces virtually the same result as cremation but using dramatically less energy.
Recomposition, which will be the first law of its kind in the U.S. and possibly the world, has an output of about a cubic yard of soil, indistinguishable from other soil. There was a recomposition pilot program conducted at WSU, which met all safety thresholds outlined by the Department of Ecology. The process for recomposition is similar to those used for animals. The body is covered in straw and wood chips and over a couple of weeks is broken down into soil. This process is safe and effective for human disposition. It is natural, gentle, and sustainable, reducing carbon emissions. It uses one-eighth of the energy of cremation.
In collaborating with funeral directors around the state, it is clear that Washington residents want more end of life choices. One quarter of families are asking for more green options. This is also good for small businesses that wish to provide these options. This is exciting and there is no reason these options should not be available. DOL has asked for a delayed effective date so that they can build this into their new computer system, reducing the fiscal impact.
According to the Breitbart report, Washington State officials plan to give the family of the deceased first dibs on the “soil” produced by composting dead loved ones, otherwise the soil would be distributed to local conservation groups, where it would be used to help nourish the land.