A bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday makes human composting, an alternate type of interment, legal in California starting in 2027.
Assembly Bill 351 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) will establish a state regulatory procedure for natural organic reduction, a process in which human remains are placed in a steel container and submerged in wood chips, alfalfa, and other biodegradable materials for 30 to 45 days before naturally decomposing. The resultant nutrient-rich soil can subsequently be given back to families or used in conservation areas. Supporters claim that it is a more environmentally friendly option than standard end-of-life care. For instance, traditional burial involves the use of nonbiodegradable coffins and energy-intensive cremation, which emits carbon dioxide. Traditional burial also involves the use of chemicals to embalm the body. Human composting will be permitted in California, joining states like Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont. Human composting will be permitted in California, joining states like Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont.