Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries New South Wales (SMCNSW) has initiated a community consultation process to address sustainability issues in the burial process.

Woronora Cemetery Woronora Cemetery Currently the materials used in burial processes (such as wood paint on coffins and chemical preservatives) may have a negative impact on the environment, while the use of polished stone and marble tombstones can permanently change the landscape.

According to SMCNSW, despite the community’s strong interest in more sustainable tombs, current regulations lag behind enabling residents to carry out funerals according to 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.