Almost 90 % of cemetery waste can be separated and subsequently recycled, but it still ends up in energy recovery facilities or landfills. What is the solution?
Bratislava, 16 October 2023 – Companies Odvoz a likvidácia odpadu (Waste collection and disposal - OLO), MARIANUM - Pohrebníctvo mesta Bratislavy (Bratislava City funeral service), PRO NATUR-PACK and CEEV (Center for environmental and ethical education) Živica joined forces in search for solutions to improper waste management in cemeteries. They are coming with practical tips for proper separation of such waste types, and they also offer alternatives how to honor loved ones with respect for the environment. The infrastructure for separated waste collection will be expanded during the annual Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed in the selected Bratislava cemeteries managed by the company Marianum. Cancellation of non-recyclable assortment sales will also contribute to the environmental benefits.
Waste collection company OLO, Bratislava City funeral service MARIANUM, Producer Responsibility Organization NATUR-PACK and civic association Živica jointly encourage the proper separation of cemetery waste. „In 2022 more than 2 000 tons of waste were collected in Bratislava cemeteries, majority of it during the Commemoration period, of course. While in the cities of Bratislava and Košice the cemetery waste can be used for energy recovery in the facilities such as ZEVO (Waste-to-energy Facility), the other municipalities in Slovakia mostly landfill it. It's a shame as nearly 90 % of such waste can be recycled and used as a secondary raw material,“ revealed Zuzana Balková, external communication manager of OLO.
Troubles with separation of cemetery waste starts as early as during purchase of the articles which are usually placed on graves in Slovakia for decoration.
Materials from which the decorations are made are the root of this problem. „Cemetery waste is mostly composed of different materials – plastics, textile, adhesives and wires hardly to be separated from each other, or the consumers simply do not tend to do it: different artificial flowers, wreaths, candlesticks and particularly problematic, frequently found „ikebana“ anchored in containers of concrete or gypsum. It is necessary to behave responsibly even when purchasing this kind of assortment in order to reduce the total amount of cemetery waste and to increase the proper separation rate,“ added Marek Brinzík, communication and marketing director of the PRO NATUR-PACK.
With respect to the cemetery waste it is also necessary to adopt good separation procedures, as only properly separated waste can be further processed. Therefore all mentioned organizations elaborated simple and easy tips for the cemetery visitors how to correctly separate such waste.
Natural alternatives of decorations also contribute to the clean, green and more beautiful cemeteries.
Among all types of waste, green biodegradable waste has the largest proportion - almost 60% - in cemeteries. It shall be free of wires, adhesives, plastic decorations, packing, ribbons or other arrangement materials. „Cemeteries are a piece of nature in the city, do not bring waste there. Artificial arrangements can be replaced by live or dried flowers from our own garden or local florist. Wreaths can have a straw or wicker base, and rose hips, chestnuts, cones and other dried plant products can serve as decorations. Instead of wire, bast or natural twine can be used. They are all not only ecological, but also less expensive alternatives to the usual cemetery assortment,“ explained Monika Suchánska, manager of the natural burial project „Funebra“ in Živica association.
Development of separation infrastructure is another way to recover the cemetery waste.
Currently, the infrastructure for separation of cemetery waste is operating in three Bratislava cemeteries managed by the company MARIANUM – cemeteries Vrakuňa, Prievoz and Petržalka. Two temporary separation facilities will be added during this year Commemoration period – in the cemetery Podunajské Biskupice and the urn grove of the Crematorium. Visitors of these sites will be able to separate the green biodegradable waste, plastics, metals and metal packaging, glass, paper, electric and electronic waste, portable batteries and mixed municipal waste.
,,Cemetery waste has an extremely high potential to be separated and reused. It requires developing proper separation habits of the cemetery visitors, but also the container stands and completing separation infrastructure directly at the final resting places. We believe that we will succeed to install container stands at all eighteen Bratislava cemeteries during the coming years, depending on the legislative procedures and financing. Restriction on the sale of artificial flowers, decorations, LED candles or ikebana anchored in concrete, which was already sent by MARIANUM to the sellers of decorations in the vicinity of Bratislava cemeteries, and cancellation of non-ecological decorations in front of Bratislava crematorium is an important change in the favor of the environment. The restriction tendency and gradual prohibition of selling such assortment will continue over the coming years,“ concluded the issue Róbert Kováč, director of MARIANUM.