Cemetery operator Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries NSW (SMCNSW) has launched a community consultation to target sustainability issues in the burial process.
As it stands, materials used in the process such as wood lacquers on coffins and embalming chemicals can have a negative impact on the environment, while the use of polished stone and marble tombstones permanently alters landscapes.
According to SMCNSW, while there appears to be strong community interest in more sustainable burials, current regulations have fallen behind enabling residents to conduct burials in line with their wishes.
“It is widely acknowledged that the legislation in New South Wales around burials hasn’t kept up with the times,” SMCNSW chief executive Dr Isabelle Meyer said.
“It’s time this was changed to reflect the values of New South Wales residents and provide alternative options for those seeking a different kind of burial and memorial experience.”
There are a range of different interpretations on natural burials, however, many come with their own complications. For instance, single burials with tree plantings can restrict future use or reuse of land.
SMCNSW hopes the discussion will help inform policy makers and influence changes to the Health Act and other legislation.