PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University wants to start a pilot program to test methods of decomposing human bodies that could offer an alternative to burial or cremation.
Researchers with Washington State University's Department of Crop and Soil are asking the school to approve a human remains composting pilot program.
Department leaders said they already compost livestock carcasses, and that is what attracted the Seattle-based company Recompose. It is the sister organization of the Urban Death Project.
Both organizations are looking for a more eco-friendly alternative to burial and cremation.
Katrina Spade, the Recompose founder, says some current funeral practices are environmentally harmful. She said coffins and cemeteries take up natural resources and land, while cremation emits carbon dioxide and other particles in the air.
Recompose is looking to change the way human remains are handled post-mortem.
When a person dies, their body will be put in dirt. After some time, the body will naturally break down and become soil.
In turn, that soil will provide the nutrients to grow new life like a tree or flowers.
The Urban Death Project completed a study with Western Carolina University back in 2015. They were able to successfully recompose six donated human bodies.
Spade said working with WSU would be the next big step toward providing this as a viable option for a final resting place. She said WSU researchers have found a safe way to recompose livestock remains and she believes the same could be done for humans.