19 States Now Permit Alkaline Hydrolysis

By Ed Defort
Memorial Business Journal • June 13, 2019

Brookfield, Wisconsin – Washington’s recently passed bill, which made it the first state to permit human composting, also made it the 19th state in the nation to permit the use of alkaline hydrolysis to process human remains.

Even though the number of states permitting the process continues to increase, the public’s awareness of alkaline hydrolysis has not. According to preliminary numbers in the NFDA Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey, only 7.5% of respondents are aware of the process; that number has remained relatively flat over the past five years.

Here are the states and the respective years in which the legislation was passed, courtesy of T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA general counsel (below):

  • ALABAMA 2017 statute added alkaline hydrolysis to definition of cremation
  • CALIFORNIA 2017; takes effect July 1, 2020
  • COLORADO 2011 legislation
  • FLORIDA 2010 legislation
  • GEORGIA 2012 legislation
  • IDAHO 2013 administrative regulation
  • ILLINOIS 2012 legislation redefined cremation to include alkaline hydrolysis
  • KANSAS 2010 legislation redefined cremation to include alkaline hydrolysis
  • MAINE 2009 administrative regulation redefining cremation
  • MARYLAND 2011
  • MINNESOTA 2006 legislation
  • MISSOURI 2016
  • NEVADA 2017 legislation; became effective January 1, 2018
  • NORTH CAROLINA 2018 legislation
  • OREGON 2009 statute added alkaline hydrolysis to definition of final disposition
  • UTAH 2018 legislation
  • VERMONT 2014 legislation
  • WASHINGTON 2019 legislation; takes effect May 1, 2020
  • WYOMING 2014 legislation

Gilligan noted that over the past few years, several states have had alkaline hydrolysis bills introduced. “A bill in Ohio was defeated in 2012 after it passed the Senate but never got out of committee in the House because the Catholic Conference of Bishops voiced opposition to it,” he said. “New Hampshire originally passed a law in 2008 allowing alkaline hydrolysis; the law was later repealed and a 2013 effort to pass a new bill failed.”

An earlier effort in New York failed and has not been re-introduced. Gilligan added that in 2017, bills to legalize alkaline hydrolysis were introduced in the states of Indiana, Utah and Washington. “Indiana’s bill failed and Utah’s bill passed in 2018,” he said. “Washington’s bill initially failed but was reintroduced as SB 5001 and passed in 2019” (this is the same legislation that allows organic natural reduction or human composting).