Beijing expects half burials go green in 2020

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In Beijing, where land is expensive and pollution a concern, the government is encouraging families to practice green burials such as burying a deceased loved one's ashes under a tree or in a flowerbed, or spreading them in the sea.

The capital has plans to ensure that at least half of its deceased citizens have eco-friendly funerals by 2020 in an effort to conserve space and improve the environment.

The goal was set on Tuesday by the Beijing civil affairs department, who asked all districts with cemeteries to build a green cemetery for demonstration and advised them to transform traditional cemeteries into green ones.

Eco-friendly funerals are currently available at more than 30 cemeteries in Beijing.

In Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, where many famous national figures are interred, an eco-friendly cemetery opened in August, receiving nearly 100 applications so far, according to authorities with the cemetery.

Chen Weidong, deputy head of Beijing civil affairs department, said the development of green burials is at an early stage, with most residents clinging to traditional burials, which poses pressure on land use.

According to a report published in March by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, a majority of the Chinese public still lack awareness of environmental protection or frugality in terms of funerals, and are sticking to the traditional belief that choosing elaborate graves for the deceased is a way of showing love and respect.

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