Alum’s startup turns pets into soil

Company offers three environmentally friendly alternatives to burial



WSU alumus Greg Schoenbachler’s company uses three process to cremate pets. They offer traditional cremation with fire, as well as aquamation and composting.

YASMEEN WAFAI, Evergreen assistant editor

A Washington state based company uses fire, water and earth based technologies to provide pet owners with options when deciding on aftercare services following the death of a pet.

Childhood friends Greg Schoenbachler, a WSU alumnus, and Paul Tschetter started Rooted in 2016 and the company has been growing ever since.

“We have developed a technology that provides an alternative method for dealing with a pet loss,” Tschetter said.

Schoenbachler, who graduated from WSU in 1997, has experience in animal sciences and agricultural production and said the best mortality management for a farm is to compost the animals, so the idea to compost pets is not foreign.

The company offers three types of cremation services, including fire cremation, the most common and commercially available form of cremation. Tschetter explained fire cremation involves putting the body in a large oven. All that is left are bone fragments or “cremation ash.” This is then typically put in an urn or scattered.

However, the process of fire cremation is very harsh and inefficient in terms of energy consumption, Tschetter said, so they wanted to develop a composting system that dealt with pets on a smaller scale.

A newer technology the company uses is water cremation, or aquamation. This involves putting a chemical in water and placing the body in the solution. The animal is then put in a special machine that chemically breaks down the soft tissue, which is then given back in the form of ash, Tschetter said.

The third type of service Rooted provides is earth based, or composting. This process also uses temperature, like fire cremation, but employs a natural process to break down the soft tissue and turns it into soil. There is some bone left over, but the end product is soil, Schetter said.

Earth cremation produces less waste and is a way to repurpose a pet after it has passed, Tschetter said.

Schoenbachler said they want to provide all three types of services for pet owners especially because composting and aquamation cannot be found in every city. The company operates in Tenino, WA, outside of Olympia, and serves several other counties on the west side.

Tschetter said they have no formal plans to expand right now, but they hope to in the future.

He said the response to their services from pet owners has been positive and they are often happy to get something useful back that provides them with a physical memory, he said.

“The death of a pet is not the end of a pet’s life,” he said.