Time to Act: Addressing the environmental emergency facing the death care sector

26 April 2021

Commercial News Item

Medical advancements and better living standards have contributed to people living much longer, but death is inevitable. Around 1% of the populace die each year and for many years, the death care sector has been unknowingly contributing to Global Warming and Climate Change.

New information emerged about the toxicity of materials involved in body disposal, from the ecological effects of embalming fluids and coffins, through to the effects of natural body composition and even the release of mercury from tooth fillings. What is clear is that the sector as a whole is facing a significant challenge when it comes to addressing and reversing the Climate Crisis.

The pressure to implement change is no longer coming from the smaller, eco-conscious subsections of the community alone. As of 24th February, it was reported that 300 out of a total of 404 District, County, Unitary and Metropolitan Councils had so far declared a Climate Emergency. This includes 8 combined Authorities and City Regions. As part of the declaration, aggressive timelines and plans are being put into place to address all of the areas under their control, including death care services. Time is of the essence too, with the vast majority of these plans set to be implemented by 2030.

Many death care professionals will be thinking that it is impossible to avoid the negative impacts on the environment completely, regardless of whether customers are opting for burials or cremations. Whilst this is indeed the case, there are a number of steps that Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Cemeteries can take to help limit their impact on the environment. Crucially, the most fundamental shift needs to come in mindset, outlook, and company culture. Only by changing your perspective and considering the environmental impact of all activities undertaken can we truly start to make the necessary changes and see them permeate the entire death care sector.

OpusXenta is proud to be facilitating the environmental conversation, working in partnership with The Federation of Burials and Cremations to produce a series of webinars on the steps the death care industry can take to reduce our carbon footprint. We invite you to join us on our fourth webinar, Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Bereavement Services – Greening Cremation Part 2 on 12th May at 10am. Register Here

The fourth webinar in our environmental series is taking a look at how bereavement services can move forward in a manner which causes less damage to the environment. We are delighted to have Dennis Jacobs, a member of the DFW Europe Sales Team, speaking to us on the subject of electric cremators. Using electricity as the primary fuel for cremation is not new, however, we are seeing the first examples of a new generation of machines being installed in the UK.

Apart from cremation the main form of disposal in the UK, and probably the most ancient, is of course by burial. In recent years we have seen the development of a concept to harness the natural decaying process so that the deceased can be ‘composted’ in a short period of time. We are delighted to have Simon Holden from the Faunus Group who are leaders in the development of this innovative and environmentally friendly process.

Change is possible if we all pull together. By taking practical steps to fully assess the operation, identifying areas for improvement and actively seeking out solutions which benefit the environment, funeral service professionals can ensure that the future death care sector delivers far more than it takes away.

About the Author

Scott Storey is the Head of European Operations for OpusXenta, a global technology company serving the death care profession and its suppliers, with offices in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America. OpusXenta provides cloud-based solutions that enable companies in the death care profession to manage their operations better, adapt to a changing market environment and to build out their digital presence.

For more information visit www.opusxenta.com


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