Monday, 25 Oct 2021

Composting human bodies on track to become legal in Colorado

Composting human remains appears likely to become an after-death option for Coloradans, though funeral homes won’t be able to offer it immediately.

The Colorado House passed Senate Bill 21-006 on Tuesday, following the Senate’s vote on March 16. The bill that legalizes natural organic reduction of human remains into soil is headed to the governor’s desk for a signature. It will go into effect 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns, but funeral homes will need time to get the space and operations ready before offering the service.

Rep. Brianna Titone, an Arvada Democrat who brought the bill last year before it was killed due to COVID, said people have been asking her about legalizing this method in Colorado.

“I’m just really proud to give this option to people here in Colorado, which have the Colorado way of life in mind … And when people pass away, they can feel like they lived in Colorado and they can give back to Colorado and help the earth,” she said.

Republican Rep. Matt Soper of Delta also co-sponsored the bill. He said it’s a business opportunity for funeral homes but also “the ability to to do with your remains as you see fit, whether it’s burial, cremation, alkaline (hydrolysis) or this new form, which is natural organic reduction or composting.”

Soper wanted to make sure that safeguards were placed in the bill to protect consumers and add the ability to go after funeral homes that misuse remains; his district includes a Montrose funeral home that was accused of selling body parts without family members’ permission.

Although the bill passed the Senate unanimously, 18 House GOP lawmakers voted against it., including Douglas County Rep. Kim Ransom. She said that while the bill tugged at her libertarian ideals of defending personal choice, ultimately the “principles of respecting human remains … and respecting the human body” outweighed everything else.”

“The idea when I was reading the bill over the compost piece was just very hurtful to me,” she said. “I didn’t think it was something that we needed to have at this time because of the respect piece.”

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