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Washington state braces for eco-friendly ‘human composting’



Washington state braces for eco-friendly ‘human composting’


Even the lawmaker, who sponsored the bill awaiting action by the governor receives emails from people around the country expressing disgust.

“I think the vision they have is that you throw Grandpa out in the backyard with food scraps,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat.

In fact, Pedersen said, the idea is that “bodies are being reduced to soil in a way that is essentially an acceleration of a very natural process.”

The practice reduces the environmental impact, he said, and saves land from being taken up by cemetery plots and headstones.

Some Washington residents are already lining up to be composted when their day comes.

And Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat focusing his presidential campaign on climate change, may sign the bill in order to cut carbon emissions from burials and cremations; he is expected to sign the bill on Tuesday.

Going easy on the environment is one reason Nina Schoen, 48, of Seattle plans to direct in her will that her body be composted.

“I don’t want to leave a toxic footprint when I go,” said Schoen, a media tech executive who urged state legislators to vote for the bill.

The measure, which passed with bipartisan support, also permits a process called alkaline hydrolysis, already legal in some states, in which bodies are broken down in water and lye.

It’s no accident that eco-friendly options are taking root in Washington, a state with a strong environmental ethic, a flair for innovation and below-average participation in organised religion.

Washington also has the country’s highest rate of cremation – 78 per cent. But a main hurdle facing human composting is branding.

If cremation were known as “human burning,’’ for example, it might not have grown nationally from just three per cent of dispositions in 1960 to about 50 per cent today.

“Anytime you propose something new to be done with human remains, it’s a little tough to get everybody on board,” said Mary Roach, an Oakland author who examined human composting in her book “Stiff,” about the strange fates of cadavers.

Roach expects the approach will gain acceptance as “a kind of cousin of green burial, or shroud burial, where the body is just buried in a simpler, more environmentally friendly process.”

In Seattle, a company called Recompose, where Schoen volunteers as an advisor, is preparing to offer human composting in a process marketed delicately as “natural organic reduction,” letting microbes do the work of breaking down remains.

Recompose Chief Executive Katrina Spade began questioning conventional means of disposition 11 years ago when, she says, turning 30 made her realise she was mortal.

As a graduate student in architecture, Spade researched environmentally sustainable alternatives to the 20-billion-dollar U.S. funeral industry, which she considered toxic and dehumanising.

She formed a nonprofit, the Urban Death Project, and worked with experts to calculate potential carbon emissions savings from composting bodies.

Troy Hottle, a life-cycle assessment analyst, created a detailed model showing that composting would save more than a ton of carbon emissions per person.

“With cremation, there’s a lot of fuel that goes into burning a body,” said Hottle, who continues modelling environmental effects as an unpaid advisor to Recompose.

“With traditional burial, the model accounted for caskets, embalming, a headstone and a concrete grave liner, as well as the maintenance of the gravesite.”

Spade has applied for patents and tested the concept in a recent pilot project, in which a Washington State University soil scientist composted six donated cadavers.

Spade lobbied for the legislation after Pedersen, the state senator, agreed to add it to a bill he planned to sponsor for legalizing alkaline hydrolysis.

Spade is in lease negotiations to develop a Seattle outlet where bodies will morph within weeks into soil suitable for pushing up daisies.

“Creating a space that feels comforting and serene will be the first goal,” Spade said.

“The idea of returning to nature so directly and being folded back into the cycle of life and death is actually pretty beautiful.”

In a 45-page prospectus seeking 6.75 million dollars in investments, Recompose describes its proprietary process: Bodies are to be placed with wood chips, alfalfa and straw in hexagonal steel vessels, where they will be decomposed by microbes.

The end product would be “a dry, fluffy soil, much like a bag of topsoil one would buy at a local nursery,” Spade said, and customers would have the option of donating compost to conservation groups for tree planting.

Recompose plans to charge 5,500 dollars – more than the average cremation but less than burial in a casket.

Spade said the facility would eventually have the capacity to compost 750 bodies a year, with about 150 projected for its first year.

She aims to expand the business through licensing in California and other states if the practice is legalised beyond Washington, where Recompose is alone so far in the human composting space.

Nora Menkin, Executive Director of the People’s Memorial Association, a Seattle nonprofit with a member-owned funeral home, said she’s received numerous inquiries since the bill passed in April.

She explained that assuming Inslee signs the measure, it won’t go into effect for a year.

“I did have one lady already calling – it was her sister who had passed away – wondering whether we could keep her in cold storage until recomposition was available,” Menkin said.

Lisa Devereau, President of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association, was sceptical until the bill was rewritten to specify where survivors may spread the couple of wheelbarrows of compost yielded by each body.

Families will be able to take the clean, nutrient-rich soil home, where it’ll be safe for food gardens, a prospect that Devereau says she still finds unsettling.

Devereau doubts that families will bury human compost in cemeteries. “I can’t imagine spending the money to buy a plot and dig a hole to bury a bag of dirt,” she said.

Some other funeral directors continue to oppose the practice.

“It’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of,” said Dennis Murphy, a Funeral Director at Hennessey Funeral Home and Crematory in Spokane.

Murphy criticizes the price and doubts bones would deteriorate.

The Washington State Catholic Conference opposed the human composting bill. It wrote to a legislative committee chairman that the technique might not safely process pathogens.

The organisation also objects on more philosophical terms.

“The Catholic Church believes that disposing human remains in such a manner fails to show enough respect for the body of the deceased,” Joseph Sprague, the organisation’s executive director, wrote in the letter.

State officials are guarded as they prepare to develop regulations for human composting.

“This is a completely new practice in our state, and we’ll consider possible public health risks as we proceed,” said Julie Graham, a state Department of Health public information officer.

In a different twist on green burial, actor Luke Perry was recently buried in a “mushroom suit,” as he wished, according to his daughter.

Coeio, the company that sells the 1,500-dollar biodegradable garments, says mushrooms aid decomposition, neutralize toxins and deliver nutrients to plant roots.

In Sweden, biologist and gardener Susanne Wiigh-Masak wants to use liquid nitrogen to deep-freeze bodies until they become brittle, and then vibrate them into a powder that could be used for compost.

Wiigh-Masak has been unable to get the process off the ground amid opposition from the funeral industry.

Rachel Caldwell, who is licensed as an embalmer and funeral director in Kansas, is trying to get Wiigh-Masak’s process approved in that state under the existing definition of cremation.

Caldwell plans to charge the same as the going rate for cremation, about 2,000 dollars.


Burkina Faso, Cape Verde says climate change affects the region





Abuja, Nov.21, 2019( NAN) Parliamentarian from Burkina Faso and Cape Verde on Thursday said that Climate change was one of the major challenge affecting the countries.

The Parliamentarian said this during their countries reports at the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament held in Abuja.

Hon. Jeremie Sankara, Member of the Parliament from Burkina Faso said that Climate change has adversely affected the rural development due to the constant decline in rainfall.

He said that degradation has affected 34 per cent of land in the country which represents more than nine millions hectares of arable lands.

“Climate change is adversely affecting rural development, owing to the constant decline in rainfall in terms of volume and quality of precipitation as well as high temperatures, upsurge in the number and intensity of floods, droughts and wind storms.

“These extreme weather conditions hampers the performance of agricultural, livestock and animal production systems which had lead to increase population movement as well as serious humanitarian problems and economic losses.”

According to him, the government is set to implement a specific action plan to improve on the agricultural production.

“To improve the living conditions as well as the production and consumption patterns of the people to prevent environmental degradation and the degradation of the living environment.

“The government has fast-tracked the implementation of Specific actions and measures defined in the second National Rural Sector Programme (PNSR 11) to ensure the sustainability of agricultural production in the country.”

He said that to facilitate the transition to free economy, the government would take actions to improve environmental governance, promote the reduction of green house gas emissions and enhance the resilience of grassroots communities to climate change.

Hon. Carlos Delgado from Cape Verde delegation said that Climate change is a major challenge in the country.

He said that integrated policies are being implemented in the field of environment, aiming at ensuring greater environmental sustainability, competitiveness and territorial organisation.

“It should also be noted that Cape Verde faced three conservative years of drought with very low rainfall; the country has faced and continues to face serious problems with lack of grazing for animals.

“The government has been required to implement emergency mitigation plans to address years of drought, fortunately, it has been able to count on some of its partners.

“Cape Verde continues and will continue to participate in global and regional environmental research networks, particularly those dealing with investigation of its effects of the phenomenon of climate change.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament which commences on Nov. 20 will end on Dec. 14.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Morocco seizes 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in anti-smuggling raid



Morocco seizes 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in anti-smuggling raid


Rabat, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) The Moroccan police on Thursday said  that they seized 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in an anti-smuggling raid near the Northern city of Nador.

According to a police statement, two suspects, aged 37 years and 40 years, with connections to international drugs rings were arrested during the raid late Wednesday.

The statement said that investigations are underway to uncover more accomplices.

A car and a large quantity of equipment were also seized.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that in spite of efforts to crack down on cannabis cultivation in the past decade, Morocco remains one of the world’s largest producers of the narcotic plant.

The Moroccan security authorities seized more than 112 tonnes of cannabis and its derivatives by Sept. 15 this year, official statistics show.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Chinese scientists develop lab grown meat from animal cells




Nanjing, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) Chinese scientists have produced 5 grams of meat cultured from animal muscle stem cells, according to a university in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

The Nanjing Agricultural University announced this on Thursday that the team led by Zhou Guanghong harvested the meat after cultivating pig muscle stem cells for 20 days.

It is the first meat developed from muscle stem cells in China, according to the China Association of Agricultural Science Societies, which conducted an evaluation of the technology.

Current manmade meat mainly refers to plant based meat that is made by extracting plant proteins from soybeans, peas, wheat and other vegetables and grains with a similar taste to that of meat fibers.

Cultured meat, however, is produced by painlessly harvesting animal cells and nurturing them to create muscle tissue.

According to Zhou, the cultured meat they developed has similar texture and color to ordinary minced pork, but safety evaluations and large scale production technology are required before it hits the market.

Plant based meat has already come onto the market.

Impossible Foods Inc., an American company that develops plant based substitutes for meat products, made its debut on the Chinese mainland at the second China International Import Expo earlier this month in Shanghai to seek opportunities in China.

A Chinese team in Beijing also introduced plant based meat into the market in September by selling mock meat stuffed moon cakes.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim downing of spy drone near Saudi border



Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim downing of spy drone near Saudi border


Sanaa, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday claimed they shot down a spy drone near Saudi Arabia border.

The group’s al-Masirah TV reported “our air defense downed a spy drone belonging to the Saudi-led coalition in al-Sawh area near the border of the Southern Saudi region of Najran.’’

There was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Iran-allied Houthi group in Yemen for over four years.

The coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to support the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. (Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Acting Lega serie A chief named after 2018 election irregularities



The Italian football federation (FIGC) has appointed a provisional president of the Lega Serie A to replace Gaetano Micciche, who resigned after the revelation of irregularities in his election. The federation on Thursday approved the appointment of Mario Cicala, the head of FIGC’s supervision body, as acting Lega chief until the Serie A clubs vote in a new president in an election set for December 2.

Cicala would take full charge only in case the Lega fail to appoint a new boss; he would then have to organize new elections before March 2020.

Micciche quits his job this week before the FIGC closed investigations into his election in March 2018.

Federation president Gabriele Gravina said that no counting of the votes followed what was described as an election by acclamation, which contravened Lega’s secret ballot rules and invalidated the procedure.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Toddler in India dies after falling into hot curry pot




New Delhi, Nov.21, 2019 The police on Thursday told dpa  that a four-year-old boy in India fell into a hot pot of curry and later died of injuries.

The police said the accident happened on Monday when the child was playing near the pot.

The family, from the city of Shabad in the state of Telangana, were holding a party at the time.

The boy died a day later in hospital because of severe burns.

The police are now investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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