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World’s biggest facility that turns corpses into compost

World’s biggest facility that turns corpses into compost, then gives soil to families. Micah Truman is on the verge of opening the world’s largest facility that turns corpses into compost, then returns it to families (Pictures: KOIN) A groundbreaking new facility that will be the largest in the world to turn human remains into compost is preparing to open in the coming weeks. Return Home plans to open in Seattle in April – and will hand grieving families an urn of soil belonging to their late loved one. It can process 10 bodies a month. CEO Micah Truman switched from banking to the funeral industry in 2019 after learning that it had become legal to compost bodies in Washington. His facility packs human remains into a container, alongside bulking agents such as alfalfa, sawdust and wood chips. Water, heat and air are added to speed up decomposition. After 30 days, a body’s soft tissue has decomposed, with bones and teeth then ground up and added to the mix, which is odor-free. A special sifting machine is used to screen out artificial material such as metal screws or silicone implants.

The compost is rested for a further 30 days, before being returned to family members. The process, known as natural organic reduction, or terramation, is an environmentally-friendly way of disposing of human remains, with Micah predicting an explosion in its popularity in the coming years. He has tested it out on pig corpses, and showed the results to KOIN. Families can include flowers or other organic material – such as their loved one’s favorite food – in their vessel, and will be charged $4,950 for the process. That is cheaper than the $5,500 price of most burial plots in the state of Washington, even before the costs of embalming and caskets are taken into account. Micah said: ‘When I saw this I thought this is the thing that’s gonna change the world. ‘So we’re now able to have a very human process which we’ve done for thousands of years. ‘We stand next to our loved one, and we say goodbye to them and we cover them in organic material that we ourselves choose.’

Micah plans to construct a farewell area where families can bid a respectful farewell to their loved one, complete with music and flowers if they wish. They will be offered as much of their relative’s compost as they like, with the average corpse producing 500 pounds. Any left over will be donated to local environmental initiatives to use as compost. Katey Houston, from Weeks’ Funeral Homes in Seattle, says terramation is currently viewed as a ‘hippyish’ option.

But she predicts it will also be instantly popular with farmers who wish to ‘return to their own soil,’ and thinks terramation will account for a fifth of funerals in a decade when people become used to the idea. Katey says she wants her facility to begin offering its own terramation services in the near future. California, Oregon and Colorado are poised to follow Washington in legalizing terramation in the coming months, with Micah predicting a sharp upswing in its popularity. He said: ‘What we have here is a way for people to say goodbye to their loved one in a way that just plain feels good.’ –