We’ve done it! On April 9, 2019, the Washington State House of Representatives voted to pass SB5001. This historic bill legalizes two sustainable death care options, alkaline hydrolysis and “natural organic reduction” (formerly “recomposition”.) This morning, the Senate concurred on the amendments made during the session, and the bill officially passed legislature. In the next few days, the bill will go to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

Natural organic reduction is defined as the “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains into soil.” Over the past several years, Recompose has developed a system that does just that, and we are overjoyed that we will soon be able to offer our service in the State of Washington.

We are filled with gratitude for the many people who helped make sustainable death care a reality! From all the folks who testified, to the religious leaders who wrote letters of support, to Senator Jamie Pedersen and all of the bill’s sponsors, to our lobbyist Vicki Christophersen and her excellent team, and to ALL of the people who exercised their grassroots power and contacted their legislators over the past few months, WE TRULY CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH.

To help us remember why this is such a groundbreaking bill, please read the news below about our newest Advisory Team addition and his research into Recompose’s carbon savings.

We are moving towards a future where every human death helps create healthy soil and heal the planet.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

All the best,

Katrina Spade
Founder, Recompose
Watching the votes roll in at People’s Memorial Association in Seattle. From left: Amanda Stock, Chris Ronk, Kale Hicks, Katrina Spade, Beverly Tryk, and Nora Menkin.

Meet Advisory Team Member Troy Hottle

We are very pleased to welcome Troy Hottle to the Recompose Advisory Team!

Troy is a Senior Environmental Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment Analyst at Eastern Research Group, Inc. He holds a Ph.D. in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering from Arizona State University. Troy has worked on the application of life cycle assessment to evaluate and inform important topics to gain new insights for a sustainable future.

Previously, Troy was a Post Doctoral Fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also served as a Project Drawdown Fellow, conducting research and coauthoring the New York Times Bestseller, Drawdown.

Read on for the exciting carbon research that Troy has spearheaded for Recompose.

Our Carbon Story

Natural organic reduction is the conversion of human remains into soil…but what does this really mean? Well, what happens to a body inside a Recompose System is a lot like what happens on the forest floor. With the right mix of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, natural microbial activity transforms dead organic material into humified matter (aka compost.)

Compost is an important building-block of healthy soil, which, of course is the basis for all of life on earth. But this beautiful cycle of life and death does more than create healthy soil, it also sequesters carbon.

Carbon is another building block of life, but since the industrial age, too much carbon has been released into the atmosphere by burning the fossil fuels that had stored it for millions of years. One of the tools we have for slowing climate change is carbon sequestration, which puts carbon back into the earth.

The Recompose System helps fight climate change in two ways. First, by avoiding the carbon emission of cremation (fossil fuels burned) and conventional burial (manufacture and transport of caskets, grave liners, and headstones,) and second, by sequestering carbon during the process.
Troy Hottle, PhD, worked with a team of researchers in the Netherlands to conduct a life cycle assessment and developed a model to calculate the specific carbon savings that occurs when a person chooses the Recompose system instead of cremation or burial.

The total carbon savings? Over one metric ton per person.

For each person who chooses the Recompose process over cremation or burial, we save approximately as much carbon as is absorbed by an acre of pine forest over an entire year.

Project Drawdown

Next, Dr. Hottle took the calculations a step further, comparing the potential impact of the Recompose process to the carbon solutions calculated by Project Drawdown.

Project Drawdown is a comprehensive plan for reversing climate change over the next thirty years using solutions such as rooftop solar, net zero construction, and regenerative agriculture. The project has ranked 100 currently available solutions that will help rollback global greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Hottle compared Recompose’s potential impact to those solutions using a simplified methodology, and found that the Recompose system, if it were fully adopted by 2050, comes in somewhere between the restoration of coastal wetlands (#52) and high speed rail (#66).

All of this indicates that our end-of-life decisions have a significant impact on the planet. What we choose to do with our bodies after we die truly matters for future generations. We see this as a beautiful thing.