Going green to the grave in Australia

March 12th, 2008 - 10:06 am ICT by admin  

Sydney, March 12 (DPA) Those careful about their ecological footprint sometimes ponder whether a burial is greener than a cremation. An Adelaide cemetery has come up with some helpful arithmetic. It recommends cremation because although it is initially energy-intensive, over the long term, it’s the more environmentally friendly option.

Centennial Park chief executive Bryan Elliot told the Adelaide Advertiser that cremations produce 160 kg of carbon dioxide, while burials are meaner at just 39 kg. But in the long run burials have a 10 percent bigger impact “because we must look after the gravesite for a number of years by watering and mowing the surrounding lawn area”.

Elliot said his was the first cemetery in Australia to offer carbon-neutral funerals, with free tree planting to soak up the excess for those who asked for it.

However, Melbourne-based Palacom will soon offer a cheaper and even-deeper-green service with burial in one of the cardboard coffins now widely available in Australia and then letting the gravesite go to seed. Corpses are buried in biodegradable plastic bags rather than wooden coffins and the out-of-town cemetery reverts to farmland once the 30,000 plots are filled up.

Palacon’s George Lines explained that a post digger - usually used to drill a hole for a power pole - would be used to bury corpses standing up.

“You bury in batches, although each corpse has an individual hole,” Lines said.”Doing it this way, that is accumulating bodies as they die then keeping them frozen, the amount of labour is enormously reduced and the costs correspondingly reduced.”

The five-hectare temporary cemetery that Palacom has purchased would have no markers or headstones and visitors would find the grave they were looking for from a grid reference on the gate.

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