SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Proposed legislation, that would legalize “human composting,” is under consideration in the Illinois Statehouse, with opposition from the Catholic Church and some in the burial industry.
“Natural organic reduction” is a process that involves turning human remains into dirt over the course of several weeks by accelerating the growth of microbes that break down the body, according to The Daily Herald.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) sponsored House Bill 3158, which passed out of the House Energy and Environment Committee on Tuesday, and is headed to the House.
Seven states have already legalized human composting, including California, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
A human body can be reduced to approximately one cubic yard of dirt.
“Natural organic reduction is, in fact, the most environmentally friendly death care option,” according to Haley Morris, who works for the composting company Earth Funerals, told the committee. “It’s less resource intensive than any other option and it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 90% relative to traditional options.”
The Catholic Church is opposing the bill.
Daniel Welter, former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago, said, “Turning the mortal remains of a human person into compost for the purpose of fertilization, as one would with vegetable trimmings or eggshells, degrades the human person and dishonors the life that was lived by that person.”
A representative of the Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association, LeNette Van Haverbeke, echoed the statement, saying many in the industry “oppose human composting as lacking the traditional dignity afforded to the dead.”