Thinking about the average funeral…

This could be described as a cremation within the suburbs of a town or city involving the resources of a local funeral director. The deceased would be removed from the place of death nearby and use the resources of the funeral home for care. The family would be local and choose to use a local crematorium for a service and committal. Thinking about the average over last twelve months, mourners in total would travel locally and travel within a fifty-mile radius. The emissions can be quantified from all the activities, gathered, and expressed as Co2e. The figure we estimate is around 1.7 tonnes of Co2e

Given this, the largest emissions are likely to be from cremation. Since we do not know the weight of the deceased, time of day and time of week, it is only possible to present an average for the cremation – this figure is 126 kg Co2e. The transport to and from the funeral will vary. The use of funeral director’s limousines is likely, some may use their own cars, electric cars, public transport etc. After studying many funerals, averages can be calculated and estimated. Transport is the second largest contribution to funeral emissions.

The coffin, often considered and debated no matter what the type, will contribute between 4 – 6% to the Carbon emissions of a funeral. Most coffins (90%) are made of chipboard veneered with a wood or similar printed paper laminate; acknowledged some are solid wood (7%) and some use some MDF for decorative panel sided models (3%), but all fit within the 4 -6% range. Likewise, the same can be said for alternative coffins such as willow, bamboo, Daisy etc. The coffin contributes as a secondary fuel in cremation, thus reduces the amount of primary fuel. In the U.K. nearly all crematoria use mains gas. This is a fossil fuel burnt for heat. The Co2e emissions add to climate change whilst wood, chipboard, solid wood, willow, bamboo leaf (Daisy) is a biomass and when burnt the emissions do not contribute to climate change.



What is likely to change in a Funeral arrangement in the future?


Cars – Hearses and limousines will change to electric vehicles which are significantly better than petrol or diesel-fuelled, the sale of which is now to be banned by 2030.



Cremations Equipment

Will be fitted with abatement to scrub clean the more noxious gases as is the case in many E.U. countries already. Crematoria will optimise practices to save heat / energy by eliminating the daily stop-starts. Given that all the heat generated presently is usually wasted, this will be redeployed and used as it will be recognised as a valuable resource.



Cremation Coffins

Will be redesigned without plastics and will be labelled to show their weight and calorific value – information which will help optimise cremation equipment and the profile of energy.





The sale of petrol and diesel cars are to be phased out by 2030. Waste tax is already present on landfill waste and extended to end-of-use plastics, packaging, and electricals. We think within the next ten years the tax could be extended to waste heat. This would accelerate the change to electric vehicles, (petrol and diesel vehicles 30% of the energy goes to generate motion. The other 70% of the output of the engine is wasted as heat). If adopted, industry conventional crematoria would be taxed for their wasted heat in the same way, making cremation more expensive and incentivising change.




Julian M Atkinson – Managing Director JC Atkinson


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