Sep 9, 2021 - News
Human composting is coming to Colorado
A dummy body in front of a human composting vessel at Recompose’s facility in Washington. Photo: Sabel Roizen/Recompose

The world’s first full-service funeral home specializing in human composting is planting seeds in Denver.

Driving the news: Recompose, a company that offers human composting services in Washington state, plans to open a 50-vessel facility in Denver by fall 2022, spokesperson Anna Swenson says.

Context: Colorado became the second state in the country after Washington to legalize human composting after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill in May.

  • The policy went into effect Tuesday, but experts tell Axios it could take about a year of ironing out legal logistics before a business can be licensed to operate.

Why it matters: Not only will the law give Coloradans a new death care option, but advocates say it will position the state as a pioneer in innovative environmental policy and practices.

  • Recompose estimates that 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide is saved from entering the environment for every person who chooses organic production over conventional burial or cremation.
  • That’s because the soil created returns the nutrients from human bodies to the natural world, capable of helping restore forests, capture carbon and nourish new life.

State of play: Demand is clear in Denver, and Coloradans are actively contacting Recompose about its services, Swenson says.

  • The interest resembles what the company has seen in Washington, where Recompose has been at capacity since opening last December. It recently expanded operations from 10 to 16 vessels to transform 16 bodies per month into soil.
  • The team is working to open a second 50-vessel operation in the Seattle metro area by next March, per Swenson.

What they’re saying: "We are planning to bring this everywhere there are people who want it," she adds.

Zoom out: More states are following in Colorado’s footsteps. Oregon’s governor recently signed its comparable bill into law, and California is expected to do so soon.

  • Other legislatures, including in Delaware and Hawaii, are also weighing the option.

The other side: The Catholic Church has come out against legalizing the practice in every state where human composting has been pushed. Bishops argue the process is not a sufficiently respectful or dignified way to dispose of remains.

The big picture: The funeral industry is worth billions of dollars, and businesses across the country are cashing in by reimagining traditional practices. Meanwhile, more people are taking control of how they want to die — in surprising new ways.

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