California to Begin Composting Human Corpses

Human remains can legally be used as compost in 2027 in California.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The state of California will allow for human composting in 2027 under a new bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday.
  • The law, Assembly Bill 351 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), allows California to offer an “alternative burial method” known as human composting.
  • Human composting will be facilitated by a state regulatory process that is in place for natural organic reduction where human remains will naturally decompose over 30-45 days.
  • This legislation’s supporters called it an eco-friendly alternative to other end-of-life options such as cremation, which was called an “energy-intense” process that produces carbon dioxide.
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS:
  • Those who opt for human composting will be placed in a steel vessel and buried in wood chips, alfalfa, and other biodegradable materials.
  • After the human remains have decomposed, the now dense soil created by the process can then either be returned to families or donated to conservation land.
BACKGROUND:
  • California will be the fifth state in the union to allow human composting, along with Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont.
  • Washington legalized the practice in 2019, but not without intense backlash from citizens who reportedly expressed disgust at the practice.
  • “I think the vision they have is that you throw Grandpa out in the backyard with food scraps,” said state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat. The lawmaker called it a “very natural process” and said it would save the land from being used up by cremation plots and headstones.