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The Climate Emergency

What Changes Can Crematoria, Funeral Homes and Cemeteries Make to Protect Our Environment?

The Bereavement Sector is becoming increasingly aware of the unintended environmental consequences that burials and cremations are having on our planet. For example, did you know that one cremation produces NOx emissions equivalent to an average car traveling 3,650 km or 3650 cars driving past the crematorium in 1¼ hours!

Listen to this webinar recording where OpusXenta’s Scott Storey and Federation Executive Officer for the FBCA, Brendan Day, are joined by guests from the sector to discuss ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint and be more aware of the changes we can make in the Bereavement Sector as included in the UK Crematorium Compliance Scheme.

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

Webinar Q&A

Q: Will the environmental policy statement be available to print to share with crematorium teams to drive change from the ground up?
A: The answer is provided during the webinar.

Transcript

Scott Storey

Morning, everyone, and thank you for joining me for today's event. I'm Scott Storey, head of UK operations for OpusXenta, and my role today is to facilitate our webinar: "The Climate Emergency: what changes can crematoria, funeral directors and cemeteries make to protect the environment?"

Scott Storey

We've got around half an hour 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 bottom towards the bottom of your screen. You can also chat with us and your fellow attendees via the chat window. I have some colleagues online with me today as well, who will be monitoring that area. So if you have any issues at all, please let us know in the chat and we'll try and assist Finally, as is the case with all of our webinars, today's event is being recorded and we'll make that recording available to everyone who registered or attended within the next few days.

Scott Storey

So our panellists for today's webinar include Brendan Day. Brendan is secretary and executive officer of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities. The FBCA represents 80 percent of crematoria across the UK, along with cemeteries. Previously, Brendan worked in local authorities for 37 years, managing cemeteries, crematoria, coroners, registrars and other services. Brendan is also a director of CAMEO, the only national mercury abatement scheme in the UK and is a fellow of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, where he has held several senior positions.

Scott Storey

Also joined by Phillip Peacock. Phillip has spent, for 30 years his career has been with BT in various roles, ultimately joining BT legal. During this period, Phillip was an elected parish councillor in his home Cambridgeshire village. He served as a councillor for 24 years, of which 14 were as chairman. Phillip joined Huntingdon Town Council as deputy town clerk in 2013, and in 2014 as town clerk. He's a member of the Society of Local Council Clerks and is the chairman of the Cambridgeshire branch. He's currently president elect of the SLCC and is due to take office as president in October 2021.

Scott Storey

And finally, David Collingwood, a qualified funeral director and embalmer. David has spent his lifetime in funerals, the last 32 years with co-op funeral care in executive roles, as operations director and latterly as director of funerals. You also represented co-op funeral care as a member of the NEFD executive.

Scott Storey

So with a significant number of local authorities declaring a climate emergency, you can see that there are aggressive timelines and plans being put into place to address all areas under their control. A lot of these plans are being implemented by 2030. Every aspect of our local community needs to be reviewed, considered and measured as part of the climate emergency plan. So not only do we need to identify and address the issues, we need to change our outlook and consider our environment in whatever activities are undertaken. This is a fundamental cultural change in our daily lives.

Scott Storey

So where do bereavement services fit in? I'm just going to highlight a couple of examples before I hand over to our panel. So let's take a look at the most well-known topic of CO2 emissions, the majority of cremators in use in the U.K. are efficient gas cremators. Assuming nothing at all was done to deal with CO2 emissions from cremations in the U.K., it's estimated that we would need to plant one million trees a year.

Scott Storey

So simply offsetting is not a practical solution. We need to review current activities and identify ways in which CO2 emissions can be reduced with the current equipment in service. Some operators are starting to use electric cremators, thereby reducing emissions through the use of green energy, or should we consider alternatives to cremation, such as Resomation, Promession or Composting?

Scott Storey

But it's not just CO2 emissions that we need to consider. Current figures from the government suggest that the average NOx emissions for the mix of cars on the road is 0.137 grams per kilometer.

Scott Storey

NOx is not only generated from vehicle emissions. Chemical NOx results from the embalming process and coffin construction and thermal NOx comes from the process of combustion. So a single cremation generates NOx emissions equivalent to a car travelling 2,280 miles. Collectively, NOx emissions created as a result of all cremations in the UK is the equivalent of a car travelling 1.7 billion kilometers, the distance from the sun to beyond Saturn every year. These are just a few examples of the challenges faced.

Scott Storey

So. Whether you operate a crematorium, manage a cemetery or manage the funeral arrangements, there is a direct impact on the environment and there are some fundamental elements that need to be given consideration. The materials that are used in and around our services, for example, what materials are used in coffin construction or embalming or memorial markers or headstones? Recycling, not just plastics, but what about rainwater harvesting or floral tributes or renewable energy sources? The biodiversity around memorial gardens and cemeteries are our grounds managed to promote local flora, fauna and wildlife.

Scott Storey

Emissions created as part of bereavement services, regardless of whether that is burial or cremation, and how modern technology can help with family engagement or online operational services or ground staff management, delivering virtual services or digital memorials or the use of on-premise smart technology or electric vehicles and charging ports. These are just some examples. I'm sure there are many, many more. So now let me hand over to Brendan Day from the FBCA to talk about these challenges in more detail.

Brendan Day

Well, good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for the introduction, Scott, and can I also take this opportunity to thank our partners, OpusXenta, for agreeing to host this series of webinars on the environment, the next one of which is on the 17th of March, so put it in your diary. I also thank Scott for those slides.

Brendan Day

So I think it can be difficult at times just to realize that we can be part of the problem. I think it's a tendency for everybody to think that it's somebody else's issue. I've just seen an alert come through from Sky that they announced that their complete range of cars are going to be electric by the end of the decade. Again, so they're moving forward. And I think we also have to move forward, as well, as the examples which Scott has just shown show that shunting car miles and trees planting, shows that whilst individually we may not cause a great deal of a problem, but as a sector, we do have a significant negative impact.

Brendan Day

I think on a positive note, if we all work together as a sector, we can also be a powerful force for good. That's going to be the cake. It's going to be reaching out to each other and seeing what we can do, working together.

Brendan Day

To get this four key drivers for me, which mean that we have to do something. And those four disruptors, to set out there, start with public opinion. Now, the environmental movement can be traced back to the 1960s. But in recent years, the increasing scientific evidence of damage to the environment, media exposure and programs such as the Blue Planet have all caught the imagination of the public, creating a desire for change. And that desire, we can say, I think, quite easily, through, being expressed, through their consumer habits. Customer choice is now growing in a recent report by Deloitte "How consumer behavior is embracing sustainability" found that 43% of consumers are already actively choosing brands due to their environmental values.

Brendan Day

And that will impact on our sector just as it's impacted on other sectors. And of course, the politicians will seek to reflect the views of the public in the policies they put forward, and that will result in legislation. And we can see that there's going to be an ever expanding amount of direct and indirect legislation which will have an impact on our sector directly. I think those of us who managed or do manage crematory today can expect the Process Guidance Note that we have to work to being reviewed. It's long overdue and we feel it may be later this year and NOx could be included. I think that's a good example of direct legislation, but there's also indirect legislation such as greening aviation and shipping. If shipping is going to be impacted by carbon taxes, again, that could impact the cost of the grounding memorials coming from China and India. But I don't think there's any doubt this legislation is really just around the corner.

Brendan Day

And of course, where the legislation consumers go, then investors and investment follow and that will be the same, whether it's the private sector or the public sector. Within the private sector they will need satisfy those shareholders. And in the public sector, it will be a need to satisfy local voters. Well, whether it's private or public, I think there's going to be a growth and a boom in that green economy. And I think everyone really could see opportunities there. And we need to be able to take them.

Brendan Day

And Sport Federation members meet these challenges. The executive took some key decisions at its meeting on the 19th of October, 2020. In particular, the executive recognize that they needed to respond proactively to the global emergency through support in our federation members to respond. In doing so on both a strategic and an operational level. On a strategic level, the federation will reach out to like minded organizations. Working together we can achieve far more. I think there's no doubt about that.

Brendan Day

And I'm really looking forward to working with funeral directors, memorial masons, florists, Cremator manufacturers. We've all got a role to play in this. And a particular example being the development in the Environmental Stewardship Group with the Institute of Cemetery and Crematory Management, Cremation Society and the CDS Group who have been instrumental and incredibly supportive in facilitating all of us working together to look at environmental issues in our sector.

Brendan Day

Now, the Environmental Stewardship Group will be launched on the 1st of March. And our next webinar on the 17th of March will include speakers on the role of the ESG and its wider role as well, with people such as funeral directors, masons, florists, etc.. And on a practical level, the Federation's Crematory Compliance Inspection Scheme, where we visit up to 60 crematory a year to inspect, is being extended to include a separate section which will produce an environmental awareness report for the member.

Brendan Day

Now, the environmental awareness report is based on 16 questions, which cover four key areas, and I won't go in to them all now.

Brendan Day

But they start with cremator operation, including the use of filtration to reduce emissions. Not only they're included in the current Process Guide Notes, but also including NOx abatement. How the cremators are operated – has a policy of holding over been adopted to enable several cremations to be carried one after another to reduce both fuel usage and production of CO2. It looks at grounds and environmental related initiatives, such as the use of chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides. These are all things that we need to reduce.

Brendan Day

Is the cremation authority providing charging points in the car park? Are more areas being set aside for biodiversity? And considering, as well, the range of memorials provided to the crematory, are ones which could be recycled, are they included in the range we offer to the public. Of course, the organizational culture will be key to this change. So we look at that as well. Is the crematory management open to change and induct and adopt the environmental agenda, including replacing petrol and diesel equipment with electric power tools as a crematorium adopted environmental policy.

Brendan Day

And finally, energy usage. Has the building done an energy performance certificate? Is energy purchased from a green supplier? All these things will be considered and the report will arrive at a score against a national average, which is based on the trial sites we've already visited. The purpose of this report is to inform and advise the individual member. It's not to be critical or look for fault, and the results will be anonymized and shared with the sector to help us all discover where we are on this journey to improved environmentalism.

Brendan Day

And the next slide, please, Scott. I mentioned environmental policy. So on a practical level, I think many large organizations, large cremation companies and also local authorities adopt generic environmental policies, to support members, adopt the environmental way of working. Well, from April, the federation will launch a specific environmental policy statement for crematory to adopt. And it focuses on the way crematorium work. The statement requires members to seek to adhere to a number of aims, including complying with environmental legislation and seeking continual improvement in environmental performance, operate processes in such a way as to minimize environmental impact, maximize the energy efficiency of crematorium and ancillary facilities, encourage employees at all levels within the organization to take ownership for good environment practice.

Brendan Day

Through regular meetings, good communication, encourage active participation with key stakeholders, meet crematorium managers, meet local film directors, memorial masons, florists, again to drive change, at the very basic level to drive change upwards. And also to nominate a named individual to champion environmental stewardship throughout the Cremation Authority responsible for environmental oversight. This is not an additional post, under stress. We're not trying to add bureaucracy costs, it's just a role that a person can have, that we can all look to as a champion for the environment.

Brendan Day

All those attending the webinar we sent to a copy of the Environmental Policy Statement. So if you have any questions or would like to be an early adopter, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Brendan Day

In conclusion, I should just to take this opportunity to thank our partners, the CDS Group. You've been incredibly supportive of the Federation in developing these environmental tools. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks Brendan! Let's hear from David Collingwood, and his thoughts from a funeral director's perspective.

David Collingwood

Thanks, Scott. Thanks, thanks, Brendan, for that. Hope you can hear me okay. And if we just move to the next slide, please, Scott.

David Collingwood

I'm not an expert on the environment, and I just want to use today to present the funeral directors and the clients perspective and some of the challenges that we face. On average, a person arranges possibly two funerals in a lifetime. And so they're not experts. The people aren't experts on this. They're dealing with individual grief and sometimes don't see the collective benefit, I think of the wider picture.

David Collingwood

The funeral directors' role is to represent the interests of the family after a detailed discussion. But with many funerals, tradition is important to the client, to the family involved. There's a pressure on the person who is arranging the funeral to properly fulfil family wishes or a pressure to follow tradition and convention as well. And moving away from that sometimes can cause difficulty and challenge. I think the funeral director places an important role in discussing the options available to the client following a discussion on the life and wishes of the deceased. So any changes that we want to make, I think it's really important to focus on the funeral industry and the funeral director to ensure that they understand and can articulate properly to families what the options are and what the benefits are, because we know that choice and personalization is becoming more important and sometimes environmental concerns can take a second, secondary place to that.

David Collingwood

Just move on, thanks Scott.

David Collingwood

So some of the issues, well, vehicles, for example, large engines predominantly in these vehicles. They're coach built, so they're effectively handmade by a small number of manufacturers. Demand is massive in the sector. So the opportunity for investment in research and development for new technologies with vehicles is really quite difficult for the coach builders. As well, the way funeral directors use their vehicles, you know, we're absolutely neurotic about making sure our vehicles are clean and absolutely showroom fresh for every funeral that we look after. So we do a lot of car cleaning and car polishing, and there's a consequent knock on effect in terms of runoff and the chemicals that are used there.

David Collingwood

I think coffins and fittings and emissions, it's a big subject. We've talked about Nitrogen oxide and CO2. But emissions can also come from the deceased within the coffin as well. And that could be a factor. Care of the deceased, formaldehyde based fluids that are used, this is formaldehyde in solution that's used in arterial fluids. And we've talked about amalgam, mercury in teeth, the number of people who still have mercury in their teeth, medical implants, modern medicine and treatments as well. And also then the care of the deceased with refrigeration, with temperature controlled units and the power that they use as well in terms of what's required.

David Collingwood

And looking at the funeral itself, for example, flowers available really all year round, but you know, flowers from the Netherlands and the hothouses there, you know, a huge amount of energy used and also the transportation, you know, across from the Netherlands to the U.K. and through the U.K. as well.

David Collingwood

The flower makeup as well, traditional flowers on funerals, the use of Oasis, the sponge material that the flowers are pressed into, the flower stalks pressed into, and the plastic trays that they sit in as well are things to think about.

David Collingwood

And of course, what most people on here will know is largely burial and cremation, and the energy that's used in terms of cremation and the land and the opportunity that's used in terms of burial, and in terms as well as the land use.

David Collingwood

And I think as well, some of the issues around the headstone material that we use. Granite, that grey and black granite, is not native to to the U.K. It's shipped, as Brendan has mentioned, from China and India. The granite's themselves that are available within the U.K. are really the lighter granite's, the Cornish or the Red Granite's, which are the sort of Scottish town granite's. But the opportunity for quarrying and the opportunity for processing of those is limited in terms of supply. And I think there's an ethical issue as well with the supply of granite. Is the supply chain robust, not just to the point of manufacture and refining of the stone, but actually right the way back to the quarry face in these countries? Are we comfortable that child labor is not being used or, you know, effectively slave labour is not being used?

David Collingwood

Shall we move on? Scott, thank you.

David Collingwood

So the context then, tradition still affects the majority of funerals and, you know, there is inertia in some parts of the sector. Funeral directors who were reluctant to change, family members who were reluctant to change. There's no imperative for voluntary change. Change really only occurs where legislation requires it. And suppliers, potentially suppliers themselves can actually start to say, look, what is the opportunity, what could we do? And I think that's already happening as well. Certainly amongst coffin manufacturers are now, you know, largely using water based lacquers and adhesives for the coffin construction. And I think there's an opportunity to do more there in terms of actually thinking about the construction, thinking about the things that family wouldn't be affected by, and wouldn't see, and wouldn't be affected by that construction.

David Collingwood

I think because well, we're already seeing embalming chemical development as well, where the use of formaldehyde free embalming fluids, there is a problem in that the preservation effect of the fluids is severely reduced. But there still is a presentation opportunity with good, formaldehyde free  fluid to allow a family to see somebody in a very, very peaceful, natural position.

David Collingwood

I think as well, we're looking the opportunity to look at, you know, resumation, premation, composting, you know, the reuse of graves. Lots of new options there. But these things take a long time to normalise as well. You know, remember, you know, cremation when it was introduced was seen as almost barbaric, you know, not that long ago. And it took some time for change to happen.

David Collingwood

I think as well there's more use of standard vehicles in the ceremonial processes now, so families aren't requiring as many limousines because they have their own source of transport and they're prepared to use it. But we know that from 2030, all vehicles, all new vehicles will need to be electric. And and that could lead to the use of more European style standard hearses and executive cars rather than the Coach built vehicles. But, you know, UK manufacturers are looking at this now and there are already two all electric hearses available on the market and also two hybrid versions, petrol hybrid versions as well. But it's complicated technology for coach builders to use. And remember, the volumes are quite low relative to normal car sales.

David Collingwood

So we could also then look at sources of energy for funeral homes and care centers that are used. Where do we get the electric from? Is it sustainable? Are we reinvesting that? And that's something, again, that the client just would not say and would not be affected by.

David Collingwood

We could look at regional seasonal flowers, for example, for the funeral and finding now there's a trend for more families wishing just family flowers only and wanting donations to go to charity. And the way to donate to charity is a lot sleeker, a lot easier now. I think because, well, with memorials encouraging the use of more native materials, and that could be through cemeteries and churchyards, burial grounds, actually saying these are the types of materials that we will permit and potentially going through the pain of actually no longer allowing the use of, you know, some of the dark granites and the grey granites as well.

David Collingwood

And I think, as well, there's an opportunity for market disruption. We're seeing that technology and online opportunities are coming into the funeral market and in a sense, there's less less societal compliance with families. I think people actually are starting to realize that they got the permission to organize the funeral in the way that they want to. And we've seen with covid as well that people's choices are changing, sometimes out of necessity in terms of the number of people attending the funeral. But also, I think people are starting to look at things like direct cremation and having a celebration of a life afterwards and, you know, in a sense, challenging the tradition of following the body in and out of the building, following the body in a cortege, following and seeing the body to his final resting place, and actually saying, actually that could all be done and we could have a celebration of a life, a memorial service around the ashes, instead, a time and a date and a venue that's more suitable for those.

David Collingwood

So the market is changing, in my view, but there is still a huge fight ahead, I think, in terms of changing, changing people's mindset, especially at a time when it's my mom we're talking about here and it's my mom's funeral that's important. So there's lots of questions and I think very, very few answers. And I think for us, the challenge collectively is introduce change without impacting choice. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks David. Now, I'd like to introduce our final panelists of the day. He's going to take us through how Huntingdon Council are tackling the environmental agenda. Phillip, over to you.

Phillip Peacock

Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Brandon and David, for your presentations. Some of what we're going to say will obviously cross over because we're all talking about the environment. Can I have the first slide, please.

Phillip Peacock

The first thing Huntingdon Town Council needed to do was identify the need and initially, the first element of that was to get councilors to talk about death. It's not a natural subject for town council to talk about. But our cemetery was getting to capacity and we needed to look for a new area of land to accommodate new burials.

Phillip Peacock

Whilst looking at that, we realized there was a need for a crematorium. After the distance, residents of Huntingdon and the local area had to travel became intensively more difficult and time consuming. We then engaged CDS group, Justin and Becky. They helped us to identify that need and they've taken us through this whole process. We've worked very closely with them to which we're most thankful. In addition, the town council had to look at the rest of its portfolio of what it had to do, and we realized we needed a new depot for our equipment and new glass house. We were using just domestic glass houses, which were not sufficient. All of this had to fit in with the environmental agenda. Next slide, please.

Phillip Peacock

So the environmental agenda. We're starting from a clean sheet. We've got no experience of crematoriums. We are the first town parish council in the country to build one, and so it gave us the opportunity to challenge existing practices. As Brendan's slides show, challenge and change shake up and disrupt. I don't think we're here to disrupt. We're there to challenge. We're there to change, and there may be a shake up along the route which we will be helping and supporting. We're looking to the new alternatives, not the traditional routes, not the traditional headstones, not the traditional conference. And we want to harness technology. Next slide, please.

Phillip Peacock

Our new cemetery will have 2000 burial plots, which will see us well into the future. This site will accommodate all faiths, and no, we do not discriminate against any body who wishes to be buried in our cemeteries. Our own team dig the graves and we are also now looking whilst we use a diesel powered digger, we're now looking to exchange that in for an electric battery powered digger.

Phillip Peacock

Our crematorium is going to be run using green electricity. And we are having installed two DFW electric cremators. Rainwater harvesting will be a key element on the site, and waste heat will be harnessed to use within the buildings. Electric car points, charging points, are already installed in the car park, so anybody coming to a service at the site, or visiting a grave, can charge their car up whilst they're on site. And when electric cars become available again, that facility will be available. Next slide, please.

Phillip Peacock

So some of the challenges we've looked at, and the way we're going forward. As I've mentioned green electricity, very important to us that the whole site is serviced by green electricity. Coffins. Why are we allowing chipboard and plywood coffins, which are filled with toxic glues? Why do we allow coffins to be covered in glitter if we bury them, they get into the water course, or if we burn them, they get into the air. Ashes. Why are we putting them in plastic containers? There will be no plastic containers at Huntingdon Crematorium. They will be going, the ashes will be put into biodegradable bags and into cardboard containers, which are all degradable. Flowers, mentioned by both Brendan and David. Flowers are flown in not just from Holland, all across the world, this last weekend was Valentine's Day. Most of the roses which came into this country came from Columbia. We've got growers in this country. We need to promote through the florists the use of local flowers, seasonal flowers.

Phillip Peacock

Plastic frames to put the flowers in. What do we going to do with them? Should we be sending them back to the undertaker? Should we be sending them back to the florist to reuse? The floral foam in there? It takes 10 years to decompose and then it still puts plastics in the water course. Even the environmentally friendly floral foam takes two years at least to biodegrade. We need to encourage florists to go back to the basics of floristry.

Phillip Peacock

Memorials. There's been quite a lot said today about granite headstones coming in from India and China. There is other stone available in this country. You don't just have to use granite. Wood is also a very useful medium for Hightstown or memorial plaque. More environmentally friendly, more sustainable. We must encourage more use of locally produced wood and stone to protect British jobs and encourage more people into that trade. Embalming, I still question, why do we do it? Why do we put chemicals in the ground or into our cremators?

Phillip Peacock

We are looking to introduce a carbon tax. Anybody wishing to use a coffin made of chipboard? Anybody wishing to put a memorial headstone made of granite. We will be imposing a carbon tax upon that. That carbon tax will then be used to fund more environmental projects like tree planting, ect.. Final slide, please Scott.

Phillip Peacock

The other element we've been building on our site is our new depot and glass house, which will be at the back of our crematorium. The depot will be heated by an air source heat pump. It will have solar panels on the roof to generate power to charge battery operated tools, our mowers, strippers, hedge cutters, ect..

Phillip Peacock

All of the floral displays, tributes, will be composted. We have a commercial composter, the compost will then be used either on the flower beds, in containers to enhance what's on the site. It will remain on the site and be reused. As I've mentioned, rainwater harvesting. Important. The plants in our greenhouse will be watered by the rainwater which we've harvested. And of the greenhouse, between 30 and 50 percent of the heat harvested from the cremators will be used to heat that greenhouse. And we will then be setting up our own tree nursery to grow our own trees, some seedlings or from cuttings so that we can produce everything the town needs from one site. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks, panel, for your presentations. You know, I think it's been very interesting and very insightful to see how each of the different areas are tackling the environmental challenge. We do have some questions in from the audience. So we've got a little bit of time left now. So let me just kind of quickly rattle through these. And anything that we don't answer today, we will answer as part of a follow up after the event. So where we distribute the webinar, we will actually send answers to those questions when we haven't been able to answer them live today.

Scott Storey

So first, David, you mentioned tradition typically determines choice when it comes to the service and products. With the rise of direct, simple cremations, 140,000, which is 20 percent of the market, should it be compulsory to use an eco coffin for these ceremonies? Surely this would dramatically decrease the CO2 and NOx produced.

David Collingwood

I think any coffin used for cremation, whether it's direct cremation or a simple attended service, I think any coffin, you know, we've got to look at the make up of those coffins and see how can their best be improved. I think there's more work that can be done. I think manufacturers are working hard at this, but I think there is more work that can be done. But I would say that it should be overall all coffins used for cremation, because I don't want to limit the choice of a family who having just a simple attended service, if they're wanting a particular style of coffin. I think all coffins we need to think about actually when they're cremated and, you know, the deceased inside as well, actually, how do we reduce and control the emissions that are given off?

Scott Storey

Thank you, David. OK, question from Brett Stevenson. Will all parts of the bereavement sector be independently evaluated to quantify the environmental impact, rather than guesswork? And if so, who will carry this out and how will it be financed? I guess that's you, Brendan.

Brendan Day

Thanks for that, Scott. Yeah, I think it's an incredibly fair point, and I agree with it entirely. As the Federation, we represent the owners and operators of crematoria, and we need to be able to operate and make decisions based on scientific evidence. We all have our own views regarding the environment. We can't operate businesses in that way. So I say with that, with the environmental awareness report, to begin with sending this first year, it's going to be by gathering those results and seeing what they tell us, and sharing them with other organizations in the sector, and hopefully getting them analyzed by people at universities and getting their answers, because, quite frankly, we can't simply go forward based on people's thoughts and feelings.

Brendan Day

I'm certainly not an expert on the environment and on emissions and everything else. I look to other people for those answers. I think as a sector, we need to do the same thing. And just picking up on what Philip and David said, on the Oasis, I think, I think I'm right in saying, the Royal Horticultural Society have now banned Oasis from any of our shows. So again, this is something where we need to look out with our partners, the florists. And again, it's all a matter of being critical towards them, or trying to stop that business, it's just a matter of introducing change that we can all live with.

Scott Storey

Thank you, Brendan. There's a question here for Phillip. Phillip, did you consider resumation for your project?

Phillip Peacock

Yes, we did. As I opened the first step was to get counsellors to talk about death, and whilst we managed to get them to talk about burials and recognize cremations, to go those further steps, it was a step too far for them to digest and take on. So at this particular stage, going electric was as far as they would go. They are, they are aware and they also looked at the composting, but they just felt it was too radical at this stage, and they recognized it will come in the future. But we're just going to be at the front of what we knew was available now.

Scott Storey

Thanks for that. That leads into another question we've got here, which is: with reference to alternatives to cremation, are there any plans to raise awareness and educate in a more public setting to increase a better understanding?

Brendan Day

Should I pick that one up, Scott?

Scott Storey

I think that's probably right, Brendan.

Brendan Day

I would say I don't think the Federation's role to inform the public. We certainly inform our members of these developments and again, through the inspections, we will be doing, in the areas we will be looked at. We will be looking to see members informing the public about changes. And I think there's a real role here for the cremation society and the environmental the stewardship group. You will see that sort of bigger picture, especially the Cremation Society, who are an educational charity, I think they have a really important role in this area.

Scott Storey

Brilliant. We've still got lots and lots of questions here, and I'm very conscious of time, so I'm going to go with one more question, then we'll kind of wrap things up. We will answer all the other questions. We'll get through them and answer later for everybody and share that with the webinar recording. Last question for today is, I guess this is probably more aimed at Phillip in terms of information. How long will the biodegradable bags used for ashes at Huntingdon last for if kept dry? For example, will families still be able to store them for as long as they wish? Or will they need to transfer to a new container if they want to store them long term?

Phillip Peacock

Very good question. Obviously, we haven't been able to put that to the test yet because we we only open at the end of April. And a quick plug, if anybody wants to visit us after that date, you're more than welcome to do so. The time for the bag to biodegrade is how it's exposed. Most plastics degrade subject to light. If it's kept in a container, which they will be in cardboard container. They will last much longer. Most families, I've learned, do tend to take them even out of the plastic containers that they're presented with and put them in their own urn or box. So we don't anticipate the need for them to be a long lasting bag. That's that's our answer to that one. But until we've tested it, I can't give you an exact time scales.

David Collingwood

It's a short term storage, isn't it, Phillip, to transport the ashes to their final destination, which an incredible amount of plastic is used at the moment.

Phillip Peacock

Yes, that's what we're trying to cut down, the use of plastics.

Scott Storey

Once again, thanks, guys. I am conscious of the time, we pretty much at the end of our session today. So thank you all for joining us for today's event. I hope you found the session beneficial. Please take a look at the OpusXenta website blog section, where you'll find several important articles, as well as a series of events and seminars, webinars that we'll be running. You can see the next three scheduled here, and as Brendan's already mentioned. The next one for the climate emergency is on the 17th of March.

Jenny Eagles

Just very quickly, sorry to interrupt, just on that very quickly. For anyone who's interested, I've just copied and pasted the registration links straight to the webinar on the 17th. So if anybody did want to register for it, it's there in the chat for ease of reference.

Scott Storey

Perfect, thank you. Thanks, Jen. So we will distribute the recordings of today's session, so please feel free to share those with your colleagues. And once again, thank you for your time today.