Rep. Lewis and Rep. Higgins Tour Recompose Facility in Kent, Washington in Effort to Ecological Burial Alternatives
November 3, 2021 (Boston) – Earlier this fall, Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) and Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis (D-Framingham) toured Recompose's first facility in Kent, Washington, to better understand national best practices in ecological burial alternatives.
"We were thankful to learn more from the team at Recompose about Natural Organic Reduction and the positive impacts it can have in Massachusetts and to see their first facility in operation," said Rep. Higgins.
This session, Rep. Higgins and Rep. Lewis filed new legislation (H4036) to add two additional options for Massachusetts residents: alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction (NOR). With the hopes of combatting the present and ever-growing threat of climate change and provide Massachusetts families with new affordable alternatives to conventional burial.
"This legislation is about giving Massachusetts families additional options in burial care, options currently only available to families in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado," Rep. Lewis noted.
Natural organic reduction saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide from entering the environment when chosen in place of conventional burial or cremation - equivalent to 40 backyard propane tanks or 113 gallons of gasoline. Alkaline hydrolysis, which is available in 20 states, uses water and an alkali solution to convert remains into a liquid and sand-like substance that can be returned to the natural environment via the watershed or for use in farming, using only one-tenth of the energy involved in cremation. Natural organic reduction gently reduces human remains into soil that can be used for planting or scattering akin to conventional cremation.
Cremation costs nearly $9,000, and conventional burial costs are even higher at $10,000, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association. In contrast, alkaline hydrolysis costs around $3,000 per burial, and natural organic reduction costs about $5,500.
"It's not easy to think about after-death choices, but being able to choose a last gesture that is beneficial to the planet can be comforting. Natural organic reduction is sustainable and informed by nature," said Katrina Spade, inventor of NOR and the founder and CEO of Recompose, the first full-service funeral home to offer this option. "Our research has proven this option to be safe and effective, and we're honored to have already provided the service to more than 50 families. We look forward to working with lawmakers and community members to make NOR available to all Massachusetts residents who want it." Spade first had the idea for the process while pursuing her master's degree in architecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
"Thank you to Rep. Lewis, Rep. Higgins, and their teams for making the trip to the Recompose Greenhouse, it was an honor to show them how we transform humans into soil at the first licensed funeral home offering human composting. We look forward to working with the representatives and the people of Massachusetts to bring this important death care option to the state very soon."
The legislation will be heard by the committee on Public Health on November 15th at 9 am, those who wish to testify, submit written testimony, or both, may sign up and/or submit written testimony by completing this form: https://forms.gle/5JVc1RUayfotvSYH7 by November 11th at 5pm.