RUNNING out of space is a major concern for all Sydney cemeteries, but last week Woronora unveiled a new burial system which chief executive Graham Boyd claims will give the cemetery an extra 10 years of operation.
The new system, created by Austeng and Rocla, uses a by-product of coal-powered power stations, mine tailings and bauxite residues to create a polymer concrete, which is used to create a site of interlocking graves.
The new type of graves enable the cemetery to use a land-fill site which was previously unsuitable for burials, opening up 945 new graves which can each accommodate two burials.
"I can see this new system being the benchmark for a number of cemeteries throughout NSW," Mr Boyd said.
He said previous projections had seen the cemetery running out of space by 2042, but with the new type of graves it would be able to accommodate burials until 2052.
The new grave system was also of benefit to the Chinese community because it allowed for the use of river sand in burial, which some Chinese people prefer, Mr Boyd said.
He said environmental concerns, along with space constraints, would continue to drive changes in the way society dealt with burials.
"In the past cremation was met with a lot of resistance but, in the '60s and '70s it really took off, and in the future new technologies may also be embraced," he said.
One environmentally conscious technology on the horizon, according to Mr Boyd, is a process of alkaline hydrolysis which reduces the body to ash chemically.