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Natural Organic Reduction is Now a Legal Disposition Option in New York

New York has become the 6th state to legalize natural organic reduction. Read about the new NY NOR regulations and what it means for other states.
Natural Organic Reduction is Now a Legal Disposition Option in New York
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New York has become the 6th state to legalize natural organic reduction. Read about the new NY NOR regulations and what it means for other states.

What is Natural Organic Reduction

It’s essentially an accelerated version of what naturally occurs over many years in a casket, but instead of being enclosed the body is exposed to earth.

New Yorkers can now choose an alternative, environmentally-friendly form of disposition that is inaccessible to many Americans. The governor of New York just signed a bill legalizing Natural Organic Reduction. New York is the sixth state to legalize the practice since 2019. 

Natural organic reduction, which is also called terramation or human composting, is a form of disposition that involves placing a body in a semi-open container that’s filled with organic matter and microbes that will facilitate decomposition. The final result after about a month is a cubic yard of nutrient-rich soil.

Why the Natural Organic Reduction Process is Perfectly Safe

NOR is essentially an accelerated version of what naturally occurs after green burial over many months or years. The difference is instead of being in the ground the body is exposed to earth inside a vessel.

Natural organic reduction is a very green process that’s in many ways closer to how bodies were buried hundreds of years ago compared to traditional burial with embalming fluid, metal caskets and concrete grave liners. The process doesn’t produce pollutants and can be carbon neutral. It’s been found to be completely safe for people, animals and plant life. 

More people, including state representatives, are beginning to see that while they may not choose terramation for themselves, it’s important that safe, green forms of disposition are an option for others. 

New York Regulations for Terramation

Assembly Bill A382 establishes that natural organic reduction is legal across the state. It was a universal decision given that the bill passed both the state Assembly and the state Senate. One unique consideration for New York legislators is the fact that burial space is limited in the state. Alternative forms of disposition help ease the burden by allowing people to look beyond burial.

But approving natural organic reduction is just the first step in the legalization process. Regulations also have to be created and put into place. 

New York lawmakers are taking careful measures to lay out the laws that will regulate natural organic reduction as the funeral industry evolves as a whole. To begin with, natural organic reduction is only going to be performed at certified facilities. There are also safety regulations that all facilities must adhere to at all times. 

With each state that legalizes natural organic reduction and alkaline hydrolysis, it’s a step toward ensuring all Americans have access to green disposition alternatives. New York is just one more example that the time has come for the funeral industry to expand its services and acknowledge that changes need to be made to mitigate environmental damage.

Other States That Have Legalized Natural Organic Reduction

So far five other states have given their residents the full disposition freedom by making all options available. Along with New York, these states offer the most disposition options


Washington State is where natural organic reduction was first legalized. In 2019 the state made history when it put a national spotlight on the new disposition process. The process was developed in the state by Katrina Spade, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she came up with the concept. 


Colorado was the next state to approve natural organic reduction in 2021. Colorado is also the first state to allow for open-air cremation, however, the practice is extremely limited.


Later that year Oregon also passed a law legalizing the use of natural organic reduction for disposition. The state requires the service be provided by licensed facilities, which are in the process of being set up.


In 2022 California became the fourth state to approve natural organic reduction. The state has become a leader on environmental protection and has some of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals in the country. Approving alternatives like NOR and water cremation is helping California reach its goals. 


Vermont was the fifth state to allow natural organic reduction. It was also among the first states to legalize alkaline hydrolysis. Lawmakers cite that the decision to legalize NOR was largely because of environmental concerns and consumer demand.


Nevada is the most recent state to give natural organic reduction state-wide approval. Approving Nevada House Bill 52 came down to giving state residents the right to make their own deathcare choices and providing a more environmentally friendly option. 

These states are just the first to legalize natural organic reduction, and they most certainly aren’t going to be the last. We believe, along with organizations like The Order of Good Death, that we’re in the middle of a shift in the funeral industry. People are more aware today that their deathcare choices have consequences. As a result there is increasing demand for greener options like natural organic reduction. 

Already lawmakers in other states are preparing bills that would make NOR a legal disposition option. Some states, including Delaware and Massachusetts, already have bills submitted, and other states have recently voted on bills regulating natural organic reduction. 

While Texas lawmakers recently failed to pass a bill that would approve terramation and water cremation, it certainly won’t be the last bill to be considered. We expect yet another bill expanding disposition options to be considered in Texas as Cremation.Green works with other funeral innovators to ensure all Texans.

If you have questions about alternative types of disposition, you can get answers from the experts at Green Cremation Texas. We’re the first carbon-neutral crematorium in Texas and continue to innovate in the industry as we advocate for equal disposition options.

Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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