Oregon’s ‘human composting’ bill signed into law

SALEM, Ore. – A bill allowing human remains to be safely converted into soil was signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Representative Pam Marsh, who serves House District 5-Southern Jackson County, penned House Bill 2574 to give Oregonians another choice for what happens to their bodies after death. The legislation clarifies rules around “natural organic reduction” and existing death care laws.

Marsh’s office said, “Natural organic reduction is a process that gently transforms human remains into soil in 4-6 weeks, using large vessels to hold the body, which is combined with straw, wood chips, and other natural materials. The decomposition process creates heat of over 131F, killing viruses, bacteria, and pathogens, and exceeding EPA requirements for heavy metals, which are stabilized in the soil, not volatilized. The resulting soil is safe for gardens, trees and general land use. Like choices people have with cremated remains, the deceased may decide in advance or families may choose the best resting place for the soil.”

Natural organic reduction has been practiced in the farm industry for decades and deemed safe by numerous scientists.

“What becomes of our bodies after life is going to be a question for all of us, or at least for the people we leave behind. It’s not easy to think about death, but it can be really comforting to have the opportunity to make decisions we feel good about. HB 2574 ensures we have another safe, proven choice for those who want it,” Rep Marsh said.

The Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board will oversee rulemaking, permitting and licensing for natural organic reduction facilities and operators. The legislation becomes operative on July 1, 2022.



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