Gavin Newsom Signs Bill to Legalize Human Composting in California

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will make human composting a legal burial option in the state in 2027.

A human composting burial method or natural organic reduction (NOR) lets a body decompose into soil, which takes about 30 to 60 days. The soil can then be given back to the family of the deceased, much like how cremated remains are treated.

The bill, Assembly Bill 351, was signed by Newsom on Sept. 18. It was first introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Nido’s Backyard Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco on Feb. 9, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Wildfires, extreme drought, record heat waves reminds us that climate change is real and we must do everything we can to reduce methane & CO2 emissions,” Garcia tweeted in response to Newsom signing the bill.

California will be the fifth state to legalize the NOR burial method, joining Washington, Vermont, Oregon, and Colorado. Washington was the first place in the world to give the okay to the practice.

A company called Return Home has been offering the service in Washington since June 2021. The company has said that their burial process offers benefits to the environment.

“One cremation takes about 30 gallons of fuel to complete and blows 530 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere,” Micah Truman, CEO of Return Home, told ABC7.

Return Home CEO Micah Truman holds up a T-shirt with the slogan “I’d rather be compost” on March 14, 2022. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Releasing 530 pounds of CO2 is equivalent to burning through about two full tanks of gas in a newer Honda Accord or one full tank in a newer Chevrolet Suburban.

Human composting also has its critics.

Kathleen Domingo, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, wrote a letter in opposition of the method on behalf of the group. In the letter, which was shared with The Epoch Times, Domingo stated, “NOR uses essentially the same process as a home gardening composting system.”

She stated that it “reduces the human body to simply a disposable commodity” and that the compost methods were originally “developed for the disposal of livestock, not as a means of human burial.”

She also stated that using these same methods for human remains “can create an unfortunate spiritual, emotional and psychological distancing from the deceased.”

New York might be the next state to legalize the burial option with Assembly Bill A382. The bill has passed both the assembly and the senate and is now waiting to be either signed or vetoed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul.


Jason is a reporter based in San Francisco covering California news.


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