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This is what the biodegradable urn looks like, accompanied by two tree saplings, Source: Ajuntament de Valencia

Valencia introduces an option for climate-neutral burial

Valencia introduces an option for climate-neutral burial

In light of the growing cremation trend, the authorities have decided to find a creative way to offset emissions produced in the process

Starting from July, the City of Valencia will offer compostable burial urns as an alternative to traditional ones made from metal or ceramic. The vessels will come with a young tree sapling, which can be planted together with the urn to serve as an organic and sentimental reminder of the deceased person.

The decision to introduce this more sustainable way of burying the dead was motivated by an increasing preference for cremations as compared to traditional funerals. Cremation services were first introduced in 2009 in Valencia and last year they already accounted for 67% of burial choices. This trend, however, also meant an increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Fighting climate change even after death

The compostable urn will thus become the base of a new tree that anyone can plant on a plot of their property, even in plant pots on balconies and terraces. In the words of the Councillor for Cemeteries and Funeral Services, Alejandro Ramon, “this is a much more sustainable option, as the tree will do its job of capturing CO₂ emissions and generating oxygen, and in this way will help to offset the emissions from cremations and, in general, in the fight against climate change.

He then added: "It will also be an innovative way to remember our dead, giving them a second life through a tree."

This service, which will be completely free for families, does not involve an expense for municipal coffers either. The urns will be given by the foundation of the company in charge of waste management of cremations. 

As for the trees, which will be provided by the City Council, Alejandro Ramon stressed that the next of kin can choose between different Mediterranean varieties such as pine, holm oak, oak, and olive. In addition, the bereaved can also choose this new burial option without the tree.

Traditionally, the council has offered to deposit the non-degradable urns in columbariums or niches of the family property. There was also the possibility of throwing the ashes in a water body in the General Cemetery, the so-called River of Life, which irrigates the cemetery garden.

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