South Australia’s largest cemetery will offer carbon-neutral cremations and burials as
part of plans to offset carbon emissions for its entire operations. Centennial Park’s carbon-offset scheme is believed to be the first of its kind for an Australian cemetery.
Centennial Park has conducted an Australian first study into the environmental impacts of cremations and burials, with the finding that it is better for people to be cremated when they die when compared with the long-term impact of burials.
Believed to be the first study of its kind in Australia, it was undertaken in consultation with international engineering and environmental consultancy group, GHD Pty Ltd. Centennial Park is using the findings to develop a carbon-offset option for customers.
Centennial Park’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bryan Elliott said, “On the day that a cremation or burial takes place, the volume of carbon dioxide produced is higher for cremation than for burial.”
The report found that each cremation at Centennial Park generates approximately
160 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. This represents less than 1% of annual carbon
emissions by the average Australian household*.
Each burial at Centennial Park generates approximately 39 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. However, when the long-term environmental footprint is considered, burials at Centennial Park have a 10% greater impact than cremations.
“This is because we must look after the gravesite for a number of years by watering
and mowing the surrounding lawn area and maintaining the concrete beam on which
the headstone is placed. Burial is a more labour and resource intensive process, consumes more fuels and produces larger quantities of waste than cremation,” Mr Elliott said.
Initial research suggests that in order to offset the environmental footprint of
burials and cremations at Centennial Park, the cemetary will need to plant around one tree for each service. Based on the current total number of services performed at Centennial Park, the total cost is likely to be around $8000 each year for cremations and $2500 for burials. But Centennial Park says they are planning to absorb these costs rather than pass them on to families and relatives.
* According to the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change, the average Australian household generates around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.