Last spring, the Washington state legislature passed a bill legalizing the "recomposition" of human remains, defined as the "contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil." The process is called "natural organic reduction" (NOR). In recent weeks, two companies have have composted their first human bodies and a third firm is expected to open later in the year. In Seattle, Recompose says they've already had eight customers complete the process and more than 400 others have paid in advance of their deaths. From KTLA:
The body is placed in the NOR cradle along with 200 gallons of wood chips. Facilitators add a mix of bacteria, protozoa and fungi to speed up the reduction process. Oxygen is repeatedly added to the cradle to keep it in the 145-155 degree range. Patrick also has solar panels hooked up to add extra heat when needed. The cradle is periodically tumbled to help disperse oxygen throughout the chamber.
Humans tend to have a lot of unnatural materials in their bodies, though, like dental fillings, screws and pacemakers. That all has to be filtered out after the bulk of the decomposition is done, Patrick said. They also crumble up the bones to release the phosphorus.
After that, Patrick said they'll have four, 55-gallon drums full of usable compost. The family can take all of it, or donate a portion to Herland Forest where it will be used to help grow new trees in the cemetery.