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Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

Better marketing needed for green funerals in Hong Kong

Better marketing needed for green funerals in Hong Kong

Given the limited supply of columbariums in Hong Kong vis-à-vis increasing demand from an ageing population, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department introduced green burial services in 2007 and maintains 12 memorial gardens for residents to remember deceased family members in a sustainable and environment-friendly way.

Considering the limited number of families who have used the services, however, the department must target its promotional efforts at the elderly and collaborate with the Department of Health, which manages the organ donation register.

The marketing of green burial services should be more precisely targeted. In 2016, the ombudsman found that such promotion was not effective, as only 4,073 deceased people had their ashes scattered at the Gardens of Remembrance or at sea the previous year.

Although the number increased to 6,558 in 2019, it only related to 17.4 per cent of residents who passed away that year. To better market green burial, in addition to broadcasting promotional videos on social media, distributing booklets in hospitals and holding exhibitions and talks at tertiary institutions, the government should also promote the service among the elderly who may be making plans for their funeral arrangements.

The Elderly Health Service of the Department of Health maintains a web page offering information on “Life and Death Education”, including funerals and burials.

Food and environmental hygiene officials should work with colleagues in the health department to promote green burials as part of life and death education, and prominently display the hyperlink for green burials on such web pages.

In 2019, the Food and Environment Hygiene Department introduced its Green Burial Central Register for the public. As of September last year, 4,759 people had signed up. Since 2008, the Department of Health has maintained an organ donation register which currently has more than 330,000 enlisted potential donors.

The Food and Environment Hygiene Department should consider collaborating with the Department of Health to learn from its marketing experience and reach out to potential organ donors, who may be more likely to support green burials because of their displayed willingness to help others.


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