Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Bereavement Services
Greening Cremation Part 1
In the UK we have over 600,000 deaths per annum and we have always recognised the need to provide a means for disposing of the dead which is both respectful and sanitary. Now we must add a third consideration, the environment. Each of us in the process which combines to dispose of the dead, from funeral director to crematorium provider to memorial supplier has a role to play.
In this webinar we hear from;
- Steve Telford, UK Sales Manager with Facultatieve Technologies, who supply cremators to the UK and many other countries. With the rising concern over the carbon footprint of crematoria, Steve considers the various fuel types which can be used with cremators in addition to gas.
- Howard Pickard is Managing Director of Resomation Ltd, he discusses water cremation and how this could be a greener substitute to traditional cremation.
- Robert Meney is a member of the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturer’s Association. The majority of burials and cremations take place in coffins produced by members of the FFMA. Robert explains what steps are being taken by the FFMA to support the growing call for a greener way of death.
Environmental change is required in all aspects of our lives, from structural change to how we deliver services down to individual lifestyle changes. Our Climate Emergency Webinar Series has painted a picture of the significant challenge’s our bereavement sector is facing to keep up with the rapidly evolving environmental agenda we are all facing. Watch the series below:
Please click below for the Webinar Presentation
Morning, everyone, and thank you for joining me for today's event. I'm Scott Storey, head of UK Operations at OpusXenta. And my role today is to facilitate our webinar, The Climate Emergency, Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Bereavement Services, part 1. There will be a part 2 next month. We've got around 45 minutes of information to share with you today, after which we'll have some additional time to take questions. As we go through today please do add any questions that come to mind in the Q&A section which you can access from the button towards the bottom of your screen?
You can also chat with us and your fellow attendees via the chat button or window and I have some colleagues online with me today as well who will be monitoring that chat area. So if you have any issues, please let us know in the chat and we can try and assist. Finally, as is the case with all of our webinars, today's event is being recorded and we will make that recording available to everyone who has registered or attended within the next few days.
So let's move on. So let me introduce our panel for today. Our panel includes Howard Pickard, managing director of Resomation Limited. Howard holds a BTEC degree in manufacturing engineering from Loughborough University and an MBA from Leeds University. He has over 30 years experience of engineering and became managing director of his fifth generation family business in 1995, taking over from his father, David. The LBBC group originating as Leeds and Bradford Boiler Company Ltd in 1876, comprises a group of engineering businesses, each focused on their specific market sector with a common foundation of pressure, engineering, technical expertize and customer support.
LBBC Group products are supplied and supported globally. Resomation Limited, established in 2007, is a company dedicated to the global introduction of a sustainable alternative to burial and flame cremation. Resomation Limited became part of the LBBC group in 2016 as the key equipment for a system supplied within divisions of the LBBC group. I'm also joined by Steve Telford, Steve spent his first 20 years of work, excuse me, working life as an energy and environmental consultant covering all sectors of industry and commerce, both in the UK and internationally.
Steve's carried out his first stack emissions test in 1976, and there were very few people in the UK or worldwide undertaking such work at that time, very unlike today. He's the author of a number of demonstration project reports carried out on behalf of the energy technology support unit of the then Department of Energy on subjects such as small scale of landfill gas utilization from a shallow start using horizontal wells, mines, gas utilization and waste, heat recovery from hospital incinerators. On behalf of the World Bank, Steve was part of a team surveying factories in Turkey and Portugal in the glass and textiles manufacturing sectors to identify worthwhile energy saving investment opportunities that would be funded by the bank. His first visit to a crematorium came during 1992, when he was asked to investigate, measure and report on emissions to the atmosphere from a cremator by Dowson and Mason, who at that time were a major UK producer of Cremation Furnances. The company needed this information at that time in order to bid for overseas installation projects, and there were very few, if any, details available on emissions at that time.
Following the introduction of the Environmental Agents Environmental Protection Act in 1990 Steve acted as a consultant to many cremation authorities, both in the private and public sectors, and sat on the working party responsible for the production of PG5-2 95. In 1996, Steve joined the cremator manufacturer TABO Inex as a technical manager, which followed the later integration with the TABO Inex and Evans Universal companies ultimately becoming Facultatieve Technologies where he still works to this day with his role covering sales and environmental matters.
I'm also joined by Rob Meney. Rob is an executive board member of the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers Association, The FMMA. Rob is an independent consultant with some 35 years experience in business. Most recently, Rob spent seven years with co-op funeral care in their supply chain operation. Prior to that, Rob worked in the electronics industry or in senior management positions with various companies in Europe, the USA and Asia. And finally, last but not least, Brendan Day. Brendan, is the secretary and executive officer of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.
And Brendan will be joining the panel for the Q&A session later with the webinar. So the journey so far, we started this series with the FBCA, to highlight the impact bereavement services has on the environment, and with over 75 percent of local authorities declaring a climate emergency as a sector, we needed to develop a proactive response. We highlighted that if nothing at all was done to reduce the sector carbon footprint, it's estimated it would be one million trees a year would need to be planted to offset emissions.
Currently not specifically tested. Every cremation generates NOx emissions collectively each year. Cremations in the UK alone generate the equivalent NOx emissions of a car circumnavigating the world 43,000 times every year. NOx has direct and indirect effects on human health. It can cause breathing problems, headaches, chronically reduce lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite and corroded teeth. Indirectly, it can affect humans by damaging the ecosystems that we rely on in water and on land, harming animals and plants.
As second in the series focused on the formation of the Environmental Stewardship Group and insights into the significant changes that are going to be required to achieve net zero by 2050. This highlighted the reality of what is needed actions to reduce or offset our emissions by 10 percent per annum. Which is a 65 percent reduction in our carbon emissions and our carbon footprint by 2030. But it's not just about using a cleaner fuel or what's the most eco friendly process, it's about education and societal change.
John Cross shared with us this information last time. But moving forward, 59 percent of the predicted reduction in our carbon footprint means not only technological enhancements, but societal and behavioral changes. John, also shared with us the path that we are predicted to follow the journey to net zero has four key phrases one, demand reduction and efficiency, two take up of low carbon solutions. Three expansion of low carbon energy and finally offsetting emissions. But the truth is, regardless of method, human disposal will always have an environmental impact.
Today, we all have a part to play to review the services that each of us provide and what can be done to minimize the environmental impact of our services. And our panel today will provide insights from three very different aspects.
I must stress there is no singular answer, moving forward environmental considerations will form part of everyone's decision making criteria personally and professionally. So having set the scene, our first panelist is Steve Telford, he is going to provide some insights as to how Facultatieve see the impact of the environmental agenda, over to you Steve.
Good morning, everyone. Thanks for inviting me to give this presentation today. It's quite a complicated subject and there's a lot to say and I do apologize in advance for the speed in which I will have to go through this, you will, of course, be able to access all the slides later and we will make available a more comprehensive version of this, including all the information I have to leave out on the FT website. Next slide, please. The cremation sector was to all intents and purposes, unregulated in terms of environmental performance before the introduction of the EPA in 1990, that in turn gave us PG5/2. Pollutant emissions at that time were sometimes awful, horrific, horrendous. I know that because I measured them. After process PG5/2 was introduced, this immediately made the entire stock of cremators in the U.K. redundant and a program to replace them began. The newly introduced secondary combustion chamber requirements of 850 degrees C with a two second residence time, was the main reason for the replacement of the old cremators as they couldn't be converted or modified. The new replacement, environmentally friendly, cremators increased gas consumption by typically four or five times from the old levels to do, but those are the price that we had to pay to clean up our act. And it was very, very successful. PG5/2 was revised in 2004 and this introduced abatement for the first time to reduce mercury emissions as well as other pollutants.
This utilizednote gave us some relaxation to the temperature requirements that revised down from 850 degrees to 800 degress C. The secondary chamber for basic purposes only, and this is has altered cost savings of around 30 to 40 percent. Next slide, please. So how can I reduce my energy use? If we look at cremation plant utilization worldwide, it's quickly obvious that the way we choose to run cremators in the UK has a major negative effect on the environment. Generally speaking, UK cremators are under utislized compared to some of our neighbours.
The most efficient way of operating cremators is on the smallest number for the longest possible time. This could mean that you may have to have more than one shift to operate the cremators, but this is already common practice elsewhere and they will run much more efficiently in terms of energy use. To start of in the UK, we have to establish energy use per cremation figures for all crematorium sites to find out where we are now in terms of energy use. I'd expect there to be wide variations in the energy consumption figures from site to site.
Now, I've looked at in great detail the energy use at a German crematorium that we operate within our group. I selected a week randomly during March this year to look at energy consumption and operational data. We have a big advantage here in that we have full access to all of the information needed to exercise because it's our science. For the initial assessment of this I've used and often quoted figure of 32 cubic metres of gas use per cremation as this could be used as a baseline figure for comparison figures. Next slide, please.
So this was the breakdown of the gas for this random week of the German crematorium. As you can see there, blue was a 34 percent pre- heat with almost all of the use on a Monday morning to heat up the cremator after it cooled over the weekend. Orange and grey is what we're calling 'waiting on over-run gas' which is partially wasted fuel. It could be reduced by tighter operational control. The avoidable extra gas use, may be due to pre-heating the cremator too early in the day relative to the time of the first cremation or not ending the cremation as soon as it's finished, leaving the cremator idle.
Yellow, 38 percent, this represents the gas used during the cremation itself, the time for charging point by the point the cremator needs to be racked. So for this particular week in March, the total gas consumed was 336 cubic meters, 42 cremations took place. This gives an average gas consumption of eight cubic meters per cremation. And this is put it pretty much in line with what we would expect.
But it's a lot less than the thirty two cubic meters from where we started just to confirm that this is an unabated FT3 cremator of ours, built in the U.K, runs to the German environmental standards, which are 850 degrees C and with a one and a half second residence time for the second combustion chamber. It's emission limits in Germany are broadly similar to the ones in the U.K. Next slide please. The gas used across the working week, you can clearly see that Monday's gas use is the highest use of the fuel used to preheat the cremator after it cooled down. The smaller bar represents some of the gas used resulting from inefficient operation.
During this week, the cremator was carrying out between eight to 10 cremations, but looking at the trend the gas falls progressively day to day, as you would expect. You'll notice that the gas used on Friday increased. I'm looking at the logged information. This was mainly due to the operator firing the burner in the main chamber to reduce cycle times. This normally happens in cases where the small amounts of tissue remained on the hearth when one of the point, the cremation is pretty much complete.
These residual remains on the hearth will prevent the operator from breaking down, as in the UK. Firing the main burner in these circumstances is optional. We could just wait and settle for a longer cremation time and this would result in gas savings, which tend to be how electrically operated cremators operate because they have to as they don't have the option of a main burner to speed things up. Next slide, please. So how could we reduce gas use? Now, these numbers from Germany aren't the best that could be achieved by any means, and these figures don't reflect the most energy efficient manner in which the gas fire cremator can be operated.
Well, this is just how it was during that week. The energy consumption could be reduced in a number of ways, you could run the cremator seven days a week to eliminate the Monday morning gas pre-heat, you could use the standing heat losses on the cremator by fitting getting flue ceiling dampers or super insulating cases. You could lower the secondary chamber minimum temperature down to 750 degrees C, the same as electric Cremator. You could prevent the main burner from being fired to shorten the probation times and you could install the latest energy saving controls and software.
Now, these measures would reduce gas use significantly. Next slide please. So how does the gas vary during the week, each part on the chart represents the gas consumption for each of the 42 cremations carried out last week, about half the cycles during the week didn't use any gas at all during the cremation. So they don't appear on the chart. I think the gas consumption pattern really shows how much individual cremation character, these variations are not due to changes in the way the committee operates or is operating, but agitated by the nature of the charges that could be so unpredictable, just that this information is from working crematorium that hasn't been fully optimized by any means and just shows how it performed, warts and all.
Next slide, please. So how much can you say? Well, this really depends where you are right now on this initial efficiency curve I prepared. The curve is based on 32 cremators, 32 cubic meters per cremation, discussed earlier, being classified as full and the real life figure of eight cubic meters per cremation for the German crematorium we have discussed earlier. And that's being classed as good for now. These days, a refined and updated natural measured energy consumption, data rich individual crematorium in the U.K..
We can extend the curve into excellent territory using information gained from the same German crematoria we've looked at earlier, so we've looked at earlier. There, they had a very, very busy January 2021 due to covid cases, and during that month 448 cremations were carried out on the same number two cremator alone at an average gas consumption of four point five cubic meters per cremation. Now, this really reflects the effect of seven days a week operation in 16 to 18 hours per day, and this represents excellent operational efficiency.
See these numbers have really been achieved and are not just pie in the sky. That's the way it was. Next slide, please. The costs and environmental benefits. Now, I still have no idea or data for electric cremators energy performance. I'm not aware of anything that's been published elsewhere on this subject, which I find surprising. But we do need this information sharing. And so on that basis, we have no data. Now the tables produce on the basis of a reduction in fuel use down from the 32 cubic meters with cremation suggested earlier, down to a true measure performance of eight cubic meters of gas measured at the German crematorium.
This equates to a 75 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by adopting operational efficiency measures alone or, in other words, running fewer cremators for longer. Look at the capital investment required for replacement of existing gas cremators with electrically heated alternatives look expensive, and this would maybe be the best way as being from 300 million pounds for UK as a whole. If you already have top quality cremators installed, it is still capable of working for extended periods. You really don't have to spend anything at all to achieve a very significant reduction in CO2 emissions.
You can also invest anin additional energy saving measures by having these retrofitted to your existing cremators or investing in costs that will reduce your emissions of CO2 even further and even approve zero without significant expenditure. You should always take into account the fact that electric creators would usually have longer cremation cycle times when you formulate future plan for staffing patterns and operating periods, you do have the option to limit main burner operations towards the end of a cycle when firing gas to save more fuel.
This will inevitably at the expense of longer cremation times. This is a zero cost modification. Next slide, please. Green energy, I just thought I'd do a few words on this, because these are actually real life CO2 emissions that you should consider when considering alternative energy sources. This chart shows the latest published government data that you should use to calculate company greenhouse gas emissions. This assumes you purchase energy, energy from the national grid. In other words, gas or electricity from the mains and renewable energy produced on site is excluded from this.
And green energy from renewables have already been taken into account in the figure for electricity. So these apply irrespective of tariff. You'll see that despite the increasing contribution from renewables for power generation, electricity is not a particularly a green option due to the fact that the majority of power is still generated using fossil fuels. And in particular, natural gas. You can also see that biodiseal and biomethane are almost carbon neutral. There must be a danger that the widespread adoption of electronically heated cremators in the short term would actually increase and not decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Further research is required. For this reason, the current and future projected UK energy mix should be carefully considered when moving forwards and nothing should be definitively ruled in or ruled out. Next slide please. Energy cost implications, again, when planning and budgeting for the future, you should consider the relative costs of the various energy sources available for use. Electricity is a premium energy source, and has a price to match. Bio LPG can be 100 percent carbon offset like a green electricity tariff and its cost per unit is about half that of electricity, so it's worthy of consideration. This chart uses the latest published government data.
Next slide, please. What were the factors should we consider? It seems that electrically heated would run at a minimum secondary chamber temperature of 750 degrees C, the technical rather than environmental reasons. And the gas fire cremator could do exactly the same in order to reduce energy use and perhaps save an extra 20 percent on your gas bill.
One potential problem we have looking forward is that running at a lower temperature in the secondary chamber could impact on any future decisions regarding the abatements of NOx. These lower temperatures may not be compatible with efficient NOx reduction using the technology currently employed, in fact, properly old technology. A previous paper implied that selective catalytic reduction could be used in place of selected non-catalytic reduction, which is the technology applied now. But selective catalytic reduction, was seen to be an unrealistic proposition, and it's certainly not compatible with low energy use.
We may in the future have to make the choice between minimum energy use or NOx abatement. So a question for all, which is the most important, local air quality standards or global CO2 emissions. We may not be able to have both. Further research needs to be undertaken before you decide. Next slide please. So the next steps, you should establish your own energy use per cremation to find out where you are in the overall scheme of things and how you compare to others. Introducing energy monitoring and target setting schemes.
Look, at moving away from cremating on a single shift Monday to Friday to extended working hours to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. You should investigate the various sources of energy available to fill your cremators. And always make your decision based on facts and not assumptions or poorly researched information. Next slide, please.
DEFRA must rule on cremator operation at 750 degrees C when the abatementinto plant is out of service for any reason to prevent the most dangerous substances being released to atmosphere. This has never been an issue until now. This personally troubles me greatly is that the elimination of the emissions of highly toxic substances from the chimney must be priority number one and it is one of the reasons we quadrupled gas use due to PG/52 in the first place. We must decide, if NOx abatement is feasible or sufficiently effective at temperatures of less than 800 degrees C by conducting further research. The industry needs to decide if electrically heated cremators are what it desires given the proven information in order that the cremators manufacturers can respond accordingly and embark on a costly long term program replacing perfectly serviceable and potentially efficient cremation equipment with something else, the choice is yours. We should always bear in mind, of course, that any large capital investment program to reduce, to replace a cremation plant will in itself generate a huge amount of CO2, which which could completely wipe out any advantages that you had by doing something else.What I have to say. Thank you very much and goodbye.
Thanks, Steve, like I said, there is no one single answer. So our next panelist is Howard Pickard from Resomation Howard over to you.
Good morning, everybody. Thank you, Scott and OpusXenta, for putting on this good series of webinars and thank you to the FBCA and Brendan for inviting us onto this. We're very pleased to be part of this series and today, sorry, next slide, please, Scott.
Today, I was just in the next 10, 15 minutes, I will briefly run through the basics of the process. Those who may not be aware why we see it as an important part of the series and the issues we're dealing with today, where we are in the rest of the world with dealing with resomation and how everybody can help in this in the wider climate emergency. But our role in this and then how we see it going forward. And I will stress that we very much see your resomation as an option.
There are many options out there and what we'd like to present is resomation as one of those options. Next slide please. So just to give a little bit of background to ourselves, to add to what Scott said in the introduction, as you can see, a fairly established business back in the late 1800s.
And we've moved with the times as a business using our core technology to move through and we work a lot in the aerospace industry, working a lot with Rolls-Royce and GE. We work actually in the implant business. So DePuy Zimmer Biomet, they're all customers of ours for helping with the manufacture of their products. And what we are business, what we're about is engaging with customers, engaged with the industries to try to constantly use our technology and development of technology to improve the solutions for them.
And nowadays that invariably is around emissions and climate change and efficiency of the equipment. The most recent example with the pandemic, we have service guys who travel the world all the time and because of the pandemic, but also because of the climate, we're now increasing the remote support for all our equipment throughout the world. So that reduces travel and the Association of Climate, on to the next slide. So resomation, it's also known that the number of other names, what cremation, outline, hydrolysis, fundamental cremation, many descriptions for this process being new, in essence, as it says here, a gentle, natural end of life, alternative flame, cremation and burial with environmental benefits.
And that's what we'll talk a little bit more about.
But many of you know Douglas Davis from Durham University, he put it very well a couple of years ago as to how he sees this process fitting in. So just as British inventive engineering helped save the land for the living in the 20th century U.K. through flame cremation. So in the 21st century, this innovative waterbased process of accommodating human bodies offers new opportunities for an age framed by ecological concerns of land use and air quality. Next slide. So very high level, simply, the process takes what happens at the creation of life, which is a biological or chemical process where the building blocks are used to create life and the human tissue that we're all part of, it obviously takes about nine months to to get to that point.
But that's what happens in the creation of life. Next slide, what you see is what, in essence happens at the end of life, which is the reversal of that process, and with burial, the body decomposes and that takes a number of weeks or months or years even to do that with the resomation process. Basically, we we're mimicking the same natural process. But by increasing temperature, it's around 150 degrees C, adding a very small five percent amount of alkaline.
We reverse that process and the body is returned to its original building blocks in that way. Takes about four hours start to finish with actual hydrolysis process, taking about an hour, hour and a half within that. And what you're left with at the end are the bones. Next slide, please. So these are obviously dried because it's a wet process and then they're processed in the same way that the bones from cremation, flame cremation are currently done. And what you end up with is this white ash.
There's no carbon residue in that, obviously, and they can be returned to the family in an urn in the same way with the current cremation. The body prior to the resomation process is placed in a shroud, and it's through that that the body is placed in the resomator. So behind the scenes, it's a little different. But with regards to what the family would see. By in large, it would be the same as current cremation techniques. OK, next slide.
So fundamentally, the process, because there's no burning going on here, has no emissions to the atmosphere directly from the process. Now we know that no process like electric cars and all these things, no process is completely emission free somewhere in the chain. There is. And that's why called technique lifecycle analysis is often used nowadays to try to capture what actually the full end to end impact on the environment is. And this is what the Dutch government commissioned over the years.
And they did this with an organization called T.N.O did this report, and with regards to the measure for climate change, the results were quite dramatic for resomation. Now, as always, the standards evolve. The measures, the ability of electricity to generate electricity changes. So it's requiring to be constantly updated, which we're currently doing for the U.K. and again, taking the burial or cremation, there are different methods, and as Steve has been saying, there's an awful lot that can be done to improve the efficiency of cremators as well.
So, again, this is why the data is important. It's absolutely important, the science and the data behind it. But we have to understand the context of each one to be able to properly compare. OK, next slide, please. So what we've been trying to do, particularly pre pandemic, is just help the sector understand what the process is about, what the equipment required is so that when they're planning the future and the future investments, then people can understand what's involved and what they if they wish to adopt, water cremation.
But equally, the regulators, those people who are responsible for the methods that are used for this very important activity are done correctly. So we've had many open days here in our facility in Leeds, and we had very good attendance of that. Unfortunately, the pandemic put paid to that. We are hoping that if we follow the roadmap that we are currently on that we will start having these again. But in the meantime, and even during that, if anybody wishes to know more, then please contact us.
And we would be very pleased to either do that online or we can take limited visits at the moment. And we're five minutes from Leeds, a train station, well, 15 minutes away by train to another train station actually five minutes away. So very easy to to get to by train. One thing is certain, once people come and they see what it's all about, then the understanding improves dramatically and by in large, they go away positive that somewhere in the range of disposition options, water cremation has a place. Next slide.
Now, we all know that with this application, the sector, it's not something that lots of people want to engage with outside the sector. So it's difficult. It's very difficult, very challenging to overcome these hurdles. And as many of you will know, we've had issues with the output from the process which require us to go into the water treatment system. And without the data, we had the usual I don't want anything to do with that, which many of you know was the reaction from seven Trent many years ago.
Now, that's understandable. So what we have to do is get the data, the science behind it to understand and with, again, the support of the FBCA, we did that in April 19. We resomated five deceased at a temporary installation in Sheffield University. The whole report, the whole analysis was done independently by Middlesex University. And in February 2020, just before the pandemic, we were issued with a consent from Yorkshire Water, this has now led to approvals in Scotland, approvals in Northumbria, and we have other approvals under way at the moment.
And the feeling now within the water industry is we see seen the science, we understand the data. We're OK with it now. Next slide, please.
So what's going on elsewhere in the world? Well, it's been available in the US for a number of years and where it is available, many families have chosen it. So it's a system that's happening. It's working. It's as I said there, thousands of families have selected it, resomation. What's interesting is that certainly Bradshaws that we see here, they felt that this was a very enviromental process as as we know in the data. And they made the whole facility very green with the ground source heating and all this.
But actually, in the in reality, a lot of families have chosen it because they see it as more gentle than as well as the environmental side. Now, in the US, it needs to be made legal. So many states are going through that process. There are over 20 states now that have made the process officially legal. The most recent one we're expecting any any day is Hawaii, which again has interesting associations because of the water and the Hawaiian community see this as attractive in this way.
We have lots of interest from elsewhere around the world. South America has an awful lot of interest. New Zealand, Australia are also very keen on the process. Next slide, please. Close to home, we have many of you will know that the Netherlands, the Dutch Health Council, have recommended to the government that this is passed. So there has been tremendous interest from the Netherlands since the end of last year. We have a system under manufacture for there in anticipation of the legislation being passed.
We have a system on order for Ireland as well, and tremendous interest in Spain and France. In fact, for Spain, the few next expo, exhibition in Madrid, which is expected to happen beginning of June. They've asked us to send over a resomation system to have at their funeral home of the future demonstration facility there. So there's tremendous interest happening all over the world. And what we would like to see is that with the U.K, we're able to also have that engagement.
Thank you, skip that slide. So this one here, it's all about understanding, it's an industry. It's a process where we totally get that it has to be done correctly. And the ethics behind it and the data behind it has to be done. But more and more awareness is coming out there in Holland. Quite an amusing publication, they're showing how beautiful and clean can it be, the process many of you might have seen the paper by Georgina Robinson at Durham University, Dying to Go Green, which is a very informative paper on how resomation can be seen in the U.K. So lots of engagement. What's interesting over that certainly this year is that the public are increasingly contacting us and weekly we have emails. In fact, on Sunday we had an email from a couple who live here locally in Pudsey in Leeds, where they've heard about it. And they said, where could this be available? And research a recent one here. Ipsos MORI poll consistently shows that if offered the choice, approximately 30 percent of people without really understanding what it's about would elect for it. Next slide.
So, again, just widening the context, it's where are we with this? And it's all around this climate change and environmental situation. And Douglas, again, who I referred to earlier, gave a talk at the CBC where he's referring to the the elements he says, air, you can't see. So he can put that one on but the Earth, Fire and water. And it's a natural progression. And in time that the society has been through the Reformation, the industrial revolution, and now it's very much the ecological revolution and the importance of science versus the politics.
And and that's where it's important to have the data and how he sees the 21st century as the ecological age where current cremation will continue and improve. And as Steve has very clearly presented just now, the different options that can be taken, but then new options as well. Next slide, please. So just to finish. We hope that people recognize that there is a place for resomation in the future disposition, the Environmental Stewardship Group and the activities that are happening there are fantastic.
They really are looking into the options. Julie Dunk put it very well in her presentation last webinar where she says how this heralds a new area, the era of cooperation.
And that's how we would support and like to engage in that way. So you might just see there from the presentation of the Rich McDonald, the deputy chair of the Environment Agency. There is a recognition on a wide basis that change needs to happen. The environment, it's not going to get better unless we make changes and we see and we hope you see that resomation water cremation will be part of that solution. So thank you all very much for listening.
Thanks Howard, again, a different take on an interesting alternative in terms of what is current, the current methods. Our final panelist today's is Rob Meney from from the FFMA to talk about how the Funeral Furniture Manufacturers Association is responding to these challenges.
Rob. Thank you, morning everyone, and on behalf of American Manufacturers Association, thank you for inviting us to contribute to the nation on this crucial vital project. I'm Rob Meney and I'm an executive committee member of the FFMA. We are members of over 70 member companies, that cover virtually all aspects of the industry. We were founded in 1939. Our chief executive, Alan Tucker has been very active in representing our members on the DMAG and the all parliamentary group on funerals and bereavement and very importantly, and liaising along with other members of our industry, with the Cabinet Office and our ability, readiness and planning and response to the covid pandemic.
Alan has also been instrumental in advancing the FFMA's confidence certification program. It's the most comprehensive in the UK and with a test protocol being carried out by one of the world's leading product testing companies. Next slide, please, Scott. I'd like now to cover a few brief examples of how the manufacturers of the bereavement services industry have responded in recent years to ever growing environmental concerns. The FFMA's coffin, casket and shroud certification protocol, while centered around fitness for purpose, health and safety, is a vital contribution to the development of standards and an as yet largely unregulated industry, with over 170 products going through the process and bearing the FFMA stamp of approval.
It's expected that this number will have increased beyond one hundred and eighty products by the end of this year. Many companies within our sector have factories and manufacturing facilities which utilize, for example, biomass heating, rainwater collection, solar energy, water utilization optimization, waste management, recycling and reusable packaging. Almost exclusively water based lacquers and paints are used in the manufacturing process. All chipboard mills in the UK are FSC certified and a great number, perhaps the majority of coffin manufacturers utilizing this material continue to adhere to FSC standards in their own part of the supply chain.
The mills themselves are using increased amounts of recycled material in the manufacturing process. Some of the larger funeral director organizations have driven environmental recognition into their supply chains, such as the use of the SDEX, environmental and ethical software tracking tools, which aids supply chain mapping and in turn, the adoption of Smitta standard audits where appropriate. Additionally, we have seen the use of fair trade products in our industry, although perhaps not as widely as in others. Next slide please, Scott.
None of this, of course, comes without challenges to our industry. Our industry as a whole is small to give an illustration of this I mentioned chipboard and much talked about material and we'll speak about it some more. But purely in terms of scale, the mill and Hexham and Northumberland, operated by the Eggar Corporation, could supply the entire annual requirements of the UK funerals industry and around one and a half shifts of production. Manufacturing and product supply and bereavement services also is virtually exclusive with companies operating solely within their sector.
For example, the companies who supply gowns and coffin interiors arterials, do not also make shirts for Marks and Spencer. The companies involved in coffin manufacture do not also make kitchen units? Almost exclusively in the first tier of the supply chain, companies are SMEs, a very high percentage of those being family owned. Now all of this severely limits the intrinsic ability of our sector and the companies who operate within it to effect economic growth and change. The economic factors are vitally important, as we consider, for example, for a moment, monumental masonry.
In this theoretical example, we assumed that all monumental granite originated in India. Monumental masonry would represent 0.4 percent of the UK's annual granite imports from India. If we can sort of see a trade, then we must accept that that involves international trade. If we think of that as unacceptable, then we need to work out a deal with the moral implications of the elimination of the fair trade premium, which is used to better the lives of people working and those industries in the developing world.
And very importantly, if we try to look at the constituent elements of bereavement services and try to gauge the impact of those elements in terms of contribution to greenhouse gases, then we perhaps see the greatest element as being the vehicles. Now while ceremonial vehicles and the challenges relating to them have been covered in previous webinars, it's worth noting that this is dwarfed by the contribution from the private vehicles of attendees. Just to think of another example, when we consider the entire process from the collection of the body through to care and preparation of the deceased, the energy requirements of various facilities from construction through operation conducting the ceremony and disposal through cremation, the impact of the coffin, for example, would appear from some data to be less than 10 percent.
So what of alternate products and services. In terms of practical challenges and returning to monumental masonry, to give an example, because it's been spoken about in previous webinars, it is true that the granite quarrying continues to exist in the UK. However, they have been virtually quarried for building an opening new seems to get at memorial burial graves product has proven too costly. Additionally, there will not be enough to supply the demand of the UK industry and in fact justify the investment of the new skill sets required. As we seek to eliminate balming due to the presence of formaldehyde.
How do we deal with the reality of funeral capacity in major population areas when the time between death and the funeral can be in excess of 20 to 25 days. How do we deal with the capacity of refrigeration? How do we address the impact of increasing that capacity against the embalming process, how do we deal with the very real and practical considerations when a body is removed from refrigeration, if it has not been previously embalmed?
That often seems obvious to us that product A must be greener than product B, The FFMA is aware of a number of environmental impact studies and some results of two of those have been shared with us by member companies. One study was conducted without the presence of a body, the other with. One study showed nontraditional product performing better in terms of emissions, the other showed traditional chipboard product performing better. Speakers in previous webinars have spoken of how traditional our industry remains and while choice is thankfully increasing this remains an industry where every client is rightly categorized as being vulnerable. So driving change from whatever direction has to be carefully considered can we for example, practically consider some kind of product tax in an environment where funeral poverty is regarded as a very real and unacceptable condition in our society. Next slide, please Scott. I've spoken about what's already been done and the challenges of doing more, both as a sector, as a whole, and from the standpoint of the individual companies who operate within it.
However, real as those challenges are, we firmly believe that the scale of the challenges cannot be allowed to paralyze us into inactivity. We believe that the future direction of travel must be data driven. Effort has failed, for example, that an independently commissioned study based on an entire LCA of the constituent elemental impacts of bereavement services as something which would benefit our industry, the FFMA would be very willing to discuss and engage with other interested bodies to see how that could be advanced.
We all of us clearly want to do the right thing. Thanks very much for your time.
Thanks Rob. So the panel has been very, very busy answering questions during the discussion. So at this point in time, I have no open questions. Are there any any comments or statements from the panel that they would like to include at this time? Brendan?
Scott. Yes, well, a couple of the questions are somewhat challenging for me, and I think we will need them to be answered by the particular panelists.
So I'm sure we can discuss this after the event. We can get some written answers and go out to everybody.
OK, at the end of this webinar, there is a survey, so I'm going to ask the audience, which basically asks you to give us some feedback in terms of how you found this series of webinars and also to ask you if there were any other topics or any other areas that you would like us to expand upon.
Oh, and I've just had one question coming in. Do you envisage the U.K. PhDs taking on resonation equipment to carry out their own body disposal? I guess that's for you Howard.
I don't know how that will end up, because it will be determined by the sector, the funeral sector itself, not by us, but like with many areas of change, it might be, it might not be. But from the process point of view, there is no reason why a funeral director, as funeral directors in some cases own crematoria. There is no reason why funeral directors can't take on in some parts of their business, some areas of the business, the aspect of disposition. That's how I would see it from an equipment manufacturer.
And one other question I have here briefly, and then we will need to wrap up very tight on time is due. Do the FFMA promote the use of a low formaldehyde based products. And if not, why not?
We don't yeah. We don't actively promote the use of anything being as we are a members organization and we are not promoting or forcing anything right now. We are certainly open to looking at a role in doing that kind of thing in the future.
We do know that many of our member organizations use low formaldehyde products in the embalming process depending on the circumstances relating to the requirements of that embalming score. We also know that during the recent pandemic, much of that went by the wayside and moved back to higher impact formaldehyde products because of the requirements of the covid situation. So the answer is no, we don't at the moment. We don't actively promote the use of any specific product right now. But a role in doing this certainly could change in the future. And we're more than happy to look at it and play a part, talk to our members, companies who are members, and I'm sure they'll have an insight into that.
Perfect thank you Rob. Very, very, very quickly there's another question that's been posed. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get a response in the time that we've got left. But the question is, how do we propose to reach the decision makers in the council to take these issues seriously? They have far too many cremators and tend to work for less hours, and yet they're citing the emergency. I'm going to answer that question. I'll get the panel to answer that question offline purely on the basis of the time constraints that we have but thank you for the question.
So to just conclude, once again, thank you again for joining us for today, I hope you have found it informative and you'll join us for the next one where we talk to other alternative suppliers or other supplies for the bereavement services sector on the 12th of May. So, once again, thank you all for your time and your and your input.