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December 9, 2012

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City offers biodegradable urns

SHANGHAI is offering urns made of biodegradable material at city cemeteries in an effort to save land, the authorities said yesterday .

The urns are made of materials that dissolve into the soil within six months, meaning that plots can be reused every 10 years, said officials.

The initiative was launched yesterday at 11 cemeteries in districts including Jiading, Baoshan, Qingpu and Minhang and Chongming County.

Any local resident can apply for the service for their decreased relations and the option costs 880 yuan (US$141).

Biodegradable urns will help save scarce land resources, said Xu Weihua, general manager of the Chang'an Cemetery in Jiading District.

In a program called "Pu'aiyuan," launched last December, cemeteries in the city received more than 200 applications for low cost and eco-friendly burials, such as wall urns or burial beneath trees.

Persuading people to choose alternatives to traditional urns is a challenge for the authorities. Some people believe burying urns with the ashes renders the soul of the deceased immortal.

Lu Chunling, director of funeral management of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, warned that Shanghai's land for cemeteries could be used up in 10 to 15 years.

"Eco-friendly burial is the way out. Our goal is to cut the percentage of traditional burials by 10 percent by 2015," Lu said.

In Chinese tradition, the winter solstice which falls on December 21 this year is regarded as a good date to intern ash urns.


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