January 15, 2024

Why we Invested in: MEINE ERDE

Unveiling sustainable end-of-life solutions with MEINE ERDE, transforming death care to honor environmental values and personal dignity.

Camille Zivré
Why we Invested in: MEINE ERDE

One thing is absolutely certain: one day you will die. 

And yet, speaking on the topic of death is considered taboo. I understand. Discussions around death are complex, uncertain, and definite. 

That said, for the sake of our wallet and the environment, we need to address the elephant in the room: have you thought about what you want to happen to your body when you die? 

At the moment, you only have two options: cremation and burial. Both hold cultural significance, but they can be very expensive and, unfortunately, not good for the environment.

Finances oftentimes become a focal point of conversations around burials and, I don’t know about you, but I would prefer that it wasn’t. Nor do I want them to be stained by thoughts about how much CO2 emissions they’d be releasing. It should be about celebrating the life lived and mourning its finale. 

So how can we accept that, while most industries have been truly transformed in the last decades, the death care industry remains totally dead in the ground? 

We can’t. So we are set on a mission to change it.

If you’re still here, I haven’t spooked you too much, in which case, please read on to find out why I’m so excited to introduce you to one of our newest portfolio companies: MEINE ERDE.

Who knows, you might find yourself having a life death-changing moment. 

We Need a More Sustainable and Wholesome Way to Accompany the End of Life

Deciding what to do with your remains is an extremely intimate matter. Still, it’s a topic we will all (at least for the foreseeable future) need to tackle. If not for ourselves, then for someone else.

Therefore, it’s almost unbelievable to me that people haven’t called for more attention and innovation earlier. But, we’re finally starting to see some potential for change.

Worldwide, people are growing conscious and vocal about making sustainable life choices - death care plans notwithstanding. 

In January 2022, for example, we witnessed an iconic moment when the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmon Tutu’s body was cremated with aquamation (a water-based process considered a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional fire cremation). 

Regulations have been slow to answer people’s new demands, but in January 2023, the United States led by example as New York responded to demand and became the 6th state to legalize human body composition. Across the Atlantic, we now see Europe following suit.

Why? Because thought leaders, with a deep level of empathy and drive, are taking action. 

The founders of MEINE ERDE, Pablo and Max, bring unprecedented skills and drive to the death care industry, and an ambition to make changes that will serve people better. 

My first meeting was with Max. He was sharp, to the point, pragmatic, and very detail-oriented. His career started with restructuring offline retail shops to turn them cash-positive, then business development at Circ and Finleap, where he was clearly admired by his colleagues for his dedication to making things work with limited resources.

In 2020, Max was introduced to Pablo; a repeat founder, appreciated thought leader, known team-builder, and highly empathetic. All important traits for someone who is on a mission to improve the deathcare industry. Pablo has the ability to make people listen and feel comfortable in otherwise uncomfortable conversations.  

That is how MEINE ERDE has become the only innovator to work closely with the local government in Germany on regulation changes. As a result, the German state, Schleswig Holstein, legalized “reerdigung”, or human composting. A historical moment and a turning point for innovation in the death care industry. 

Why does it matter?

To date, little innovation has happened in the end-of-life process, which has led to the industry accumulating issues that have now become critical. To ensure a brighter future for our planet and generations to come, we need to address: 


There are two main options for handling remains: traditional burials and cremation. Both are not sustainable. 

Let’s start with cremation. 

Cremation requires a lot of fuel: cremating one corpse emits an estimated 250 kg of carbon dioxide into the air (the equivalent of driving 760 km in a car) and other by-product gas, generated by heating a body up to 650 Celsius degrees (source). 

According to the Green Burial Council, cremation accounts for 1.74 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year in the United States. Yep!

Equally concerning, though not widely known, is that the advanced filtration systems in crematoria require regular replacement. This process generates toxic waste, which, in the absence of a better disposal method, ends up being stored underground - just as nuclear waste. 

This reality is a far cry from the dignified final resting place we might imagine when we think about how we want to be buried one day in the future.

Now on to traditional ground burials. 

First, contrary to popular belief, the transformation of a body into soil is not effectively achieved through traditional burial methods. Approximately 40% of cemeteries are prone to mummification rather than decomposition due to the conditions being either too moist or too dry six feet underground. Additionally, embalming, a widespread practice in many countries, further inhibits the natural decomposition process. This reality, often unspoken and unsettling, can leave families distressed or shocked, diverging starkly from the peaceful return to earth that is envisioned when opting for a traditional burial.

One of the most unsustainable elements of traditional burials is the lack of space (crowded cemeteries) and the resulting rise in prices (which we’ll talk about below). But, we should also not neglect the environmental aspect. 

Coffins and caskets contain wood and metal fragments that, as they remain in the ground, leak harmful chemicals through paint, preservatives, and alloys. 

In addition, bodies are pumped with embalming fluid when prepared for burial. These in turn leak into the soil as coffins break down, and contaminate soil and waterways. 

What most of us consider the most natural and climate-positive way of passing is, as such, not.  

How does MEINE ERDE solve this? 

The solution MEINE ERDE has built is not only eco-friendly but truly positive for the environment. 

Their technology turns human remains into fertile soil (instead of ashes) using 90% less energy than crematoria thanks to a cocoon made almost fully from recycled materials. 

The potential we see for MEINE ERDE is no less than 3.1m tons CO2 savings p.a.


Funeral poverty might be a new term for you, but globally, one in six people face it. This means that one in six families is simply unable to pay funeral costs when a family member dies. 

Cremation has surpassed traditional burials in recent years - it became the top choice in the US in 2015 and it has been climbing in popularity ever since. 

This change has predominantly been driven by cost. On average, the price of a cremation service is around 45-50% cheaper than that of a burial service. People turn to cremation for the wallet, not because they prefer it.

How does MEINE ERDE solve it? 

MEINE ERDE is offering a new burial type that aligns with cremation costs. The cost of a soil transformation by MEINE ERDE aligns with the median cost of cremation, meaning it is half the price of traditional burial, and significantly cheaper than what aquamation and other new methods in investigation can hope to offer for now.

Dignity & Choice

Given the aforementioned cost pressure, many families don’t get to meet the wishes of their deceased. Fire sounds brutal but a traditional burial is simply out of reach. Some people also want to give back to the Earth, live a sustainability-driven life, and subscribe to the “going back to nature” circle of life. It comes as no surprise that searches for green cremation have dramatically increased.

How does MEINE ERDE solve it?

In the words of someone who has chosen the now-available third option; reerdigung (human composting): “This concept is just so coherent for me: I was born into this world after 40 weeks in my mother's womb, and I am leaving it with 40 days in a beautiful cocoon, and the circle closes by me becoming part of Earth again.”

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Camille Zivré

Camille is on the investment team.

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