The Green Burial Council (GBC) completed a revision of the cemetery standards in December of 2019. The standards for hybrid, natural and conservation cemeteries were last revised in 2015. This new revision focused primarily on clarifying and improving standards for natural and conservation burial grounds, however some of the standards even for hybrid cemeteries have been moved to a ‘Best Practices’ document – that is, recommendations that are generally accepted as good operating policy or procedure. This 2020 cemetery revision:
Distinguishes between Natural Burial and Conservation Burial Standards
Reduces the total number of Green Burial Standards from 21 to 16
Creates Green Burial Council Best Practices
Creates a Grandfather clause for existing GBC-certified burial grounds
A GBC approved funeral home must define in their general price list, and make reference to on any published website, their green offerings, which include the sanitation and temporary preservation of a decedent using only non-toxic, biodegradable chemicals, if any at all, or use basic cooling methods, and must include the option of a private visitation without chemical embalming. They must also:
Offer the decedent’s family the option of a public viewing without embalming, or use only GBC approved post-mortem fluids.
Carry at least three GBC approved or rated burial containers.
Accommodate families choosing to conduct home vigils prior to viewing on site without embalming, or use only GBC approved post-mortem fluids.
Offer sanitation and temporary preservation of a decedent using only noninvasive techniques and materials.
All GBC approved caskets, urns and shrouds must be constructed from plant-derived, recycled plant- derived, natural, animal, or unfired earthen materials, including shell, liner, and adornments. Fasteners and handles (other than those made from brass or chrome) are excluded from this requirement. A product may not be approved if such hardware is deemed by the GBC as excessive or inefficiently used.
Finishes and adhesives do not release toxic by-products within the ground through expected processes of breakdown/disposal.
Finishes and adhesives do not release toxic by-products within the facility where product is manufactured.
Finishes and adhesives do not contain plastics, acrylics, or similar synthetic polymeric materials.
Shell is made from material harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner as certified by a third-party trust provider recognized by the GBC or from reclaimed/recycled materials.
Product utilizes a liner that is comprised of “organic” material as certified by a third-party trust provider recognized by the GBC.
Neither the transportation of any component material to manufacturing location nor the transportation of final product to consumer exceeds 3000 miles.