This article from the Daily Chronicle tells how Recompose founder Katrina Spade has been working since 2014 to bring Natural Organic Reduction (NOR) to an acceptable and legal process of human disposition. She not only had to prove the science behind what many call “human composting” but had to find a legislative body to approve the method in a state.
Since that time a Washington State University scientist has used the remains of six terminally ill patients to prove the science and the State of Washington has legalized the process. In addition, Spade has raised $6.7 million in investment capital to build her first ten vessel (or pod) facility in Kent, Washington. Her company, Recompose, plans to be open for business in November of this year.
Now, she has learned that at least two State of Washington companies are planning to go head to head with her for the recomposition (human composting) business. The above article references that Spade is not disappointed that she will have competitors. Her quote in the article is thus, “I believe we desperately need change in the way we care for bodies, physically and emotionally. So there should be a lot of people out there doing this. Do I have to love them all? No. But it’s not surprising to see competitors finally arrive.”
Spade’s competitors will include a company called Return Home, founded by Micah Truman. Truman hopes Return Home can open in the State of Washington in April 2021 and his hopes include a facility with 65 vessels. He also has hopes to expand to California and Colorado, two states that have legislatures that may legalize recomposition in their boundaries.
Truman has a different philosophy than Spade and it is evident in his quote in the article. He states, “I think Katrina and I are going to serve different markets. Katrina very much wants to serve, to revisualize how death-care is done: beautiful space, amazing aura, empathetic people who will take you by the hand and run you through it. When I think about my company, all I need is scientists and engineers — we’re a technology play. That’s all we are.”
The companies will also differ from my perspective in who they will serve as clientele. It appears to me, from reading the article, that Recompose, Spade’s company, will function much like a retail funeral establishment, only that it will specialize in recomposition. Return Home mentions that it will serve the direct to the consumer market, but also that it will operate like a trade service in that it will work through existing funeral homes that may from time to time need a recomposition disposition.
The final competitor in this business segment in the State of Washington is the non-profit Herland Forest Natural Burial Cemetery, an existing cemetery that serves what it calls “an intentional community” and stewards 126 acres of permaculture forest in Klickitat County. Herland Forest, which dates back to 1973, has built one NOR vessel at this time.
Funeral Director Daily take: This is what is great about America. If you think you have a better idea put some money behind it and see where it takes you. I love entrepreneurs like this even if I am not real excited about the product. If their idea is good and the public likes it, it will become profitable.
There are people who want these alternatives. Spade mentions that her company has signed up almost 300 “Precompose” prepayment customers. . . .that is her pre-arrangement term for Recompose.
These companies are different, however. Even if you are not totally sold on the product, you have to love Spade’s passion with an idea she thinks the American public is ready for. Truman, on the other hand, seems to be less passionate about the process and more determined to build America’s McDonalds of recomposition. And, there is nothing wrong with that either.
Best of luck to all three of these companies. I enjoy speculating out ten years and wondering about the percentages of human disposition in America in the year 2030.
What do you think will be the percentage of casketed earth burial, natural earth burial, cremation, alkaline hydrolysis, and recomposition ten years from now? It’s an interesting topic to think about. . . . and if you knew the answer. . . you could make the moves to make sure you profit from it.