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The Climate Emergency

Contributing to Change Locally and Strategically

On the 17th March 2021, OpusXenta and the FBCA presented the second in a series of webinars to focus on the impact that bereavement services are having on the environment. With over 75% of local authorities declaring a climate emergency, the sector is mobilising to benchmark the current position and develop action plans to address this global issue, and the formation of the Environmental Stewardship Group is just the first step.

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 contribute to positive environmental change in the Bereavement Sector as detailed by the ESG (Environmental Stewardship Group).

Please feel free to share this link and information with your colleagues so that everyone is aware of the immediate challenges faced.

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: Is there any data on what proportion of the UK’s carbon footprint the crematoria sector contributes?
A: The answer is provided during the webinar.

Transcript

Scott Storey

Good 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 - Contributing to Change Locally and Strategically. 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 bottom, towards the bottom of your screen.

Scott Storey

You can also chat with us and your fellow attendees via the chat button or window. I have some colleagues online with me today as well, an we'll be monitoring that chat area. So if you do have any issues, please let us know and we'll do what we can to 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 and/or attended within the next few days.

Scott Storey

Our panel for today's webinar is Brendan Day, Secretary 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 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 (ICCM), where he has held several senior positions.

Scott Storey

We're also joined by Jon Cross. Jon is a fellow of the Institute of Directors and the Managing Director of Essenjay Associates Ltd., a consultancy specializing in working on innovation between the public and private sectors. Focused on business performance, recovery and turnarounds, he has a passion for developing solutions to emerging issues. Having spent many years working alongside local authorities in a senior capacity, he recognized several options and opportunities to build upon the services they provide by developing advantageous collaborations. Most recently, he's dedicated the last five years to the bereavement sector, assisting a number of organizations to address specific challenges and creating new opportunities.

Scott Storey

Currently alongside other projects, he is facilitating the newly established collaborative "Environmental Stewardship Group", where the Cremation Society of Great Britain, the ICCM, the FBCA and the CDS group come together to lead the sector in responding to the challenges of the climate emergency.

Scott Storey

And finally, Julie. Julie Dunk started her professional life as an archeologist, working mainly in York in the north of England. During this time, she developed an interest in Victorian cemeteries, and worked on an international project to record the memorials and Protestant Cemetery in Rome. Julie went on to work on a research project at the University of York looking at policies for disused burial grounds. The research involved visiting many cemeteries and crematoria through the UK, and Julie decided that cemetery and crematorium management was the profession for her.

Scott Storey

Throughout her second career, Julie was actively involved in a professional association, the ICCM, serving as Director and President, as well as organizing events for them. In 2008, Julie left Bournemouth Council to work for the ICCM full time as a Technical Services and Events Manager. In 2017, Julie was appointed Deputy Chief Exec, followed in 2018 by her appointment as Chief Executive. In the past 13 years, Julie has provided management, cover, and support to several burial cremation authorities and private companies around the UK, as well as delivering training, developing policies, organizing conferences and seminars, and providing technical support and guidance to those working in the bereavement services sector.

Scott Storey

Julie now heads up the ICCM team of dedicated and hardworking officers who's aim is to improve the provision of bereavement services through training, education, best practice guidelines and consultancies.

Scott Storey

It's fair to say that nature is definitely setting the agenda for this decade, opening with the global pandemic. And the pandemic did several things for the modern society. It highlighted the weaknesses in our infrastructure. It accelerated our adoption of technology to continue to operate while staying at home. It demonstrated that when given no other options, all nations can collaborate to come up with solutions for a global issue in a relatively short time period.

Scott Storey

COP26 is scheduled for November 2021, only 33 weeks away, and this decade is pivotal in the response to climate change. Now we need to work together to meet this ever present challenge.

Scott Storey

But what is the challenge? The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, set out to reduce modern society's impact on global warming. The objective is to minimize global warming to less than a two degree increase over the next 80 years. Further, the UK government has passed new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. So 29 years.

Scott Storey

To achieve this collectively, we need to achieve reductions between 7.7% - 11.7% per annum, starting now. These reductions are not just the UK targets. These are targets for every country in the world. Current UK reported figures show our decarbonization rate at 4%. If we have a 10% compound reduction is assumed, this means a reduction of 65% in CO2 emissions by 2030.

Scott Storey

In simple terms, what do we need to do? We need to increase our skills and knowledge with regard to the environment. We need to engage with staff and clients and educate them. We need to implement environmental policies and consider the environment with all commercial decisions.

Scott Storey

You need to encourage biodiversity. We need to protect flora, fauna and wildlife. We need to use our protected green spaces of cemeteries, memorial gardens and parks to actively promote natural ecosystems. We need to utilize technology to best effect to protect our environment, everything from virtual meetings, live streaming services, smart metering and cloud services to recharging stations all have a positive impact on the environment, if used correctly. We need to do more with less. Introduce Heat Exchangers to good effect to capture emissions, use green energy sources, harvesting rainwater or solar energy, all will help. We need to reduce our overall energy consumption as well as reduce harmful emissions from our activities.

Scott Storey

So there's a lot to do. And on the 1st of March 2021, the FBCA, ICCM, the Cremation Society and CDS Group formed the Environmental Stewardship Group to work with everyone in the sector to highlight the current position and develop strategies to help address the issues faced.

Scott Storey

So now let me hand over to Brendan Day from the FBCA to talk about these challenges in more detail. Brendan.

Brendan Day

Thank you for the introduction, Scott, and can I also take the opportunity to thank OpusXenta for partnering on the delivery of this series of environmental webinars.

Brendan Day

Good morning, everybody. And I'd like to start today, briefly talk about carbon footprint on the process guidance notes. In the last 30 years, crematoria undergone a step change with the development of cremators and the control of emissions. That change has been driven by the statutory Process Guidance notes PG5/12 (2). Next slide, please, Scott.

Brendan Day

For abated crematoria, the Process Guidance note set emission limits on a range of pollutants, which is set out on the slide. The sector has gone a long way as a result of introducing computer controlled cremators and abatement equipment.

Brendan Day

Somewhere between 75 and 80% of UK crematoria are now abated. We will have figures on that in a couple of months time. We are all very much aware of these requirements, and up and down the country, emission limits are being achieved with excellent equipment. What is not on that list is the carbon footprint of the facility, which might appear strange because as Jon will make clear in his presentation shortly, reducing the production of carbon is central to avoiding the climate crisis.

Brendan Day

However, the statutory Process Guidance notes, do specifically refer to the carbon footprint of crematoria. Next slide, please, Scott.

Brendan Day

As we can see, Section 4.34 of the notes is dedicated to gas usage, carbon dioxide emissions and the carbon footprint of crematoria. Yet, as a sector, it is something we have not grasped to the same extent as abating the emissions already mentioned. The section commences with an explanation of the carbon footprint and then goes on to identify the primary fuel source of cremation in the UK, gas, as the main contributor to the carbon footprint of the crematorium. I'm sure that will not come as a surprise to most crematorium managers.

Brendan Day

However, we now move to the next slide. What may come as a surprise to some managers and regulators is the requirement that within 3 months of the publication of the guidance notes operators should have commenced recording gas consumption and using the conversion factor, which is available on the DEFRA website, to convert the result into a CO2 equivalent. The regulators should then be inspecting the results. So what is the purpose of recording this information?

Brendan Day

Simple recording of gas consumption is explained in the guidance notes as being the first step in managing energy usage and therefore CO2 emissions. It also places an expectation on regulators to make this a condition of the operating permit. I wonder as a sector, are we actively managing our energy usage as well as we could? Are we developing and adopting energy reduction strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of our crematorium and save money on gas and, sorry, on gas consumption. The Process Guidance notes go on to expand on the need for environmental awareness in Section 5.47. Next slide, please, Scott.

Brendan Day

The notes say that effective management is essential to environmental performance. I wonder how many of us have effective management systems in place to deliver good environmental performance. Have you established objectives, set targets, measured progress and revised the objectives according to results, as the guidance notes states?

Brendan Day

Final slide, please, Scott. The process notes make it clear that it is desirable to adopt a structured management approach, adopting standards such as ISO 14000, which supports organizations to manage their environmental responsibilities of creating a management system tailored to the size and process. The federation is making available to its members an environmental awareness report as part of its compliance scheme later this month. This will help provide a baseline of where crematoria are regarding environmental issues. Building on that information, authorities should consider developing their own more detailed environmental plans.

Brendan Day

In conclusion, it is clear that as a sector, we have made great strides in emission controls from where we were prior to the guidance notes being introduced. However, as a sector, we may not have made the progress necessary in relation to the carbon footprint of our facilities. I'm sure the need for the sector to focus on our carbon footprint more acutely will become clear from Jon's presentation. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks, Brendan. I'd like to introduce Jon Cross, who is going to explain more about the role of the ESG. Jon.

Jon Cross

Thank you, Scott. Morning, everybody. Thank you ever so much for allowing us the time to explain a little bit more about Environmental Stewardship Group. This first slide perhaps is not as rare as we like to think, and it's partially due to situations like this that the Environmental Stewardship Group was formed. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So let me tell you about ESG. You've already heard the core members of this group, they came together in September and we discussed the issues about the sector's environment, sector's impact on the environment, and particularly in relation to the climate emergency.

Jon Cross

And with over 75 percent of local authorities declaring an emergency, we felt it appropriate that we really did need to act. So in November '20, we agreed to start raising that awareness. And we recognize that in order to do this activity, we needed to be involved in all the key constituents across the sector. We also recognize it's large, it's complex, it's bounded by sensitivity. There are traditional elements in it. And a common theme that we've come across, obviously, is about resistance to change.

Jon Cross

But nevertheless, this is the actions that we're going to take. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

Looking at the highest level on the sector, you'll be pleased to see that owner operators are right in the center of this diagram. That's because they have the largest interface with the other elements of the sector.

Jon Cross

Government departments, as a sector, we have interfaces with more than just one department. In fact, we have interfaces with more like five, six or seven. Funeral directors and suppliers, but ultimately, owner operators at the center actually carry a significant part of the solution that we're working towards. And the Environmental Stewardship Group wants to support all of these sectors. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So what are our objectives? Very simple. To protect the environment, to promote continuous improvement, to shape the regulatory requirements, and to communicate the commitment we have as a sector. But in order to do that, we need to understand where the sector currently stands. Next slide please.

Jon Cross

So we recognize that it's a large topic and we decided to set a year zero activity. This means we're going to take time out to effectively engage with as many people as we can from the sectors that you saw on the last slide.

Jon Cross

So by setting up a number of roundtable groupings, we're able to identify what they know about the emergency, where they're at in their own business, what help did they require, and where do they want to be in years to come? So we're exploring the topics such as net zero, which is commonly heard now, the implications on business, and the solutions, and predominantly quite a bit about behavioral change as well.

Jon Cross

But it's important to say that as we operate under Chatham House rules, feedback and comments are non attributable, unless specifically authorized to do so. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So between March and September, we're going to take 12 sessions in total. The first one happened yesterday, the next one happens tomorrow. So yesterday we had owner operators, tomorrow we've got Funeral Directors. And then it will be the turn of government and then on onto suppliers. So we're going to use the feedback from these activities.

Jon Cross

So that's in between mid-September and mid-October we'll be generating the findings in the form of a report. And then in late October, we're going to publish that report with recommendations on the next steps in leading this industry to sustainability. And that report will be published during a press event, timed just prior to the opening of COP26, which will help to engage and show how much we are doing and taking responsibility. And you'll find quite a lot of information being updated daily on the Environmental Stewardship Group website, which is, as you can see there, www.Environmental Stewardship Group.org.UK. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

And you can go on again, please. Thank you.

Jon Cross

Right, as you can see here, this is very simple. It's showing in the last 60 years just how the UK has actually warmed up. And as you can see, moving from blue, which is the trend where things are getting slightly cooler in a few places in Scotland, to the hottest places which are around over in Kent, and that's just happened in the last 60 years. But this is an indication of how the global warming is starting to affect particularly our climate. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

Now, so what are we doing about it? We've been told and advised that we need to keep any changes under two degrees. If you look at the salmon colored top line, you're getting, that's what we need to do to achieve managing emissions globally to keep things down below two percent, two degrees. If you look at the middle line, the blue one, you're starting to look at how things are going, on a one and a half percent medium. But you can see where the U.K. flag is. That is our target for 2050. And please bear in mind that we are the first country in the world to legislate to meet net zero carbon by 2050. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So this kind of gives you an idea about abatement and what people are trying to do to make the impact that's required, and this is about metric tons of CO2 emissions. And how people are going around that, is they're looking at how we can reduce the demand and improve the efficiency in terms of our carbon intensive activities.

Jon Cross

And that's about reducing the demand, particularly of fossil fuels, and looking at greater efficiency in the use of our energy and how we do it. So the take-up of low carbon solutions, and if you look at the yellow orange and the amber, orange and yellow part of the slide there, you'll see that the take-up of low carbon solutions is significant. On this diagram, you are looking at electrification increasing by 80 percent, at the cost of gas being reduced by 80 percent.

Jon Cross

And as such, that gives you a good indication of which way the government and the country is going, looking at sustainable clear energy. And you can also see in the blue, the expansion of low carbon energy. We're talking about increasing of wind, solar, renewable resources, and starting to introduce low carbon hydrogen as a solution as well. And the very bottom, you can see the natural carbon storage and greenhouse gas removals. The green is about more trees, more flora and fauna, the peatland, et cetera. Next, please.

Jon Cross

So what changes are we going to see? Now, these slides are telling us how much we've achieved at this moment in time. So in terms of carbon emissions, we're down 41 percent 2020. But we've also got some key developments on the right hand side of the slide that show us that electric vehicle share is now 13 percent. Boiler replacement has gone up to 11 percent. That's low carbon domestic boiler replacements. Electricity, 205 terawatt hours, and that's the low carbon or green energy. And we're seeing an increase in restoring peatland and afforestation. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

You'll see by 2025, we've now moved on to a 50 percent reduction, and that's four years away, so we've got seven percent to achieve, as Scott mentioned at the beginning. What's interesting here is that you're seeing some other developments happening. Meat consumption is going down by nine percent. Four million more households are going to be improved insulation. You're going to see electric vehicles up to nearly half of all vehicles on the road. You're looking at 31 percent of boilers being low carbon. Electricity has gone up to 238 terawatt hours. And the first time you're going to see hydrogen coming in at one terawatt hour. So let's move on again, please.

Jon Cross

So 2030, minus 64 percent, we're seeing more reduction in meat eating, we're seeing an increased number of insulations, again helping to drive down energy usage. Electric vehicle shares going up to 97 because the government has said all sales of all petrol and diesel vehicles will be outlawed by 2030. We're seeing that electricity has been increased, the low carbon electricity, to 367 terawatt hours, a thousand terawatt hours. We're also seeing hydrogen at 30000 terawatt hours. And we're also starting to see the introduction of more forestry, more peatland being restored, but also some new perennial energy crops that are going to be used to help with energy supply. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

On this final slide here, for 2035 of this particular graph, we're seeing that we've got nearly 25 percent reduction in meat consumption. We're looking at 14 million pounds worth of, 14 million homes with insulation fitted. We've moved right up to 100 percent of electric cars, 100 percent of boilers, we're talking about 485,000 terawatt hours, 106 terawatt hours of the hydrogen, 50000 hectares per annum of afforestation, 19000 hectares of energy crops and 58 percent of peatland restored.

Jon Cross

And it's really interesting that we've hit as close to the 80 percent target in 2035. And the reason for that is, if we don't achieve what we need to do by 2035, we are going to struggle to hit our legislative target by 2050. And it's important that we recognize that this is just 14 years away. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So what does that look like? It means that low carbon technologies or fuels not affecting social behavioral changes equate to about 41 percent of what we're trying to do, but measures with a combination of low carbon technologies and social and behavioral changes at 43 percent, and then largely social or behavioral changes at 16 percent make up the lion's share.

Jon Cross

So this really is about us all looking individually at ourselves and what we're doing not only about our businesses, but how the court of consensus at the moment is more and more people are looking for environmental solutions. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

I'm going to flip through this one quickly and the next one principally because this is talking about 60 billion pounds worth of investment at the peak. But if you show the next slide, please. It will show how that's being paid for through the offsets of savings and operating costs. All of these slides that I'm showing you are part of the Committee of Climate Change sixth carbon budget document, which you will find on the website. So please do look at it for more detailed explanations. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

The impact of innovation, if we remember back in 2010, everybody was talking about solar panels, and how they're going to make such a difference. But the expense and the cost of them prohibited quite a few people. But if you look in less than 10 years, the price has plummeted due to the cost of uptake. And this is exactly what is happening with the cost of green energy as well.

Jon Cross

So we're starting to see the more that the alternative sources are produced, the prices are coming down. Next slide, please.

Jon Cross

So how does this really affect us? Well, if we look at the Regulation of the Environment Agency, they're about risk management, and they manage the risk for the UK. But also, they are seen as the leading player across the globe. And I've actually been advising China, for example, on the impacts of global warming and how it will affect, in one scenario they looked at, by the sea rising on their coastal areas there, it would put at risk over one billion people. So it is about looking at this globally as well. The EPR, the Environmental Permitting Regulations are basically a license to pollute, but they control who's allowed to do what, as part of their management activities. They're looking at things called upstream prevention, which is, if you imagine all the mercury that comes through our facilities, a lot of that comes through from the dental practices. Now, if the dental practices change to get rid of all the amalgam and mercury that have been put into people's teeth, and as people are living longer and retaining their own teeth, they would take out potentially the 15 percent of the UK's mercury emissions at each stage. So they're looking to act when needed. They want to protect and enhance the environment, they're keen to support society, and they're keen to support our economy through modern regulation, working in partnership, looking at what needs to be done to achieve what happens. So they're also looking at regulatory stability.

Jon Cross

So you can really, I think, bank that this year we're going to see a raft of new regulations, guidance coming out just prior to COP26, because the UK is really pushing the world to actually focus on what needs to be done. But they want to do this in a way where it gives us long term assurance. So we're not in a position to say, "yeah, but that's going to change in a couple of years time". Next and last slide, please.

Jon Cross

So what about the Environmental Agency and the Bereavement sector? Well, obviously they're looking at our burial and cremation activities because they're looking at air quality, soil quality, water quality and biodiversity. And obviously on the Part 2, the activity in the LAPPC that local authorities run with DEFRA involvement. Everybody is now starting to look about how we can pull things closer together. And instead of having individual organizations managing different levels, how we can bring it together in a focal point.

Jon Cross

Abatement, they're looking at again. They want to look at what they can do more about mercury and level the playing field. The review guidance that we're hoping to start at the beginning of the year has been postponed until there is a more stable picture in relation to covid. But as I've said, they're looking for long term resilience. We have a big debate to take on, which is about gas versus electric for crematoria and "emissions" is their watchword at the moment. And from what we've heard from the speeches that have been given by Environmental Agency, this is going to be focused on more and more and more. And I am sure there will be financial penalties coming in later if we're not able to achieve what we need to do.

Jon Cross

So the final comment, and this is a direct lift from the slide from the Environment Agency at our launch presentation. They say that if your business is sustainable, and it's working in a sustainable environment, then it benefits everybody, and not only the business is in harmony with the environment, but it's in harmony with social and economic impacts as well.

Jon Cross

So thank you very much. And as I say, these slides have been lifted from the references that I'll make sure get put up on the website for you. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks, Jon. That's very informative and quite a challenge. So let's hear from Judy Dunk, and how we can start making a difference today. Julie.

Julie Dunk

Thank you, Scott, and thank you, Brendan, for inviting the ICCM on to this seminar. I think it's really important that this heralds the start of the new era of cooperation. And certainly, you know, Jon just outlining what the Environmental Stewardship Group is all about also demonstrates that we can't go it alone. We have to work together as a sector to tackle these challenges. If I could have the first slide, please Scott. Thank you.

Julie Dunk

I want to talk briefly about how the ICCM has responded to environmental challenges over the years, and then I want to give you some ideas for, sort of, moving forward.

Julie Dunk

So just to sort of recap briefly. In 1990, the idea of natural burial and alternative coffins was introduced by Ken West. So what's that, 30, 31 years ago now? And Ken then opened the first natural burial site in Carlisle in 1993. So we've had quite a long history of learning about the environment and about the Funeral sector's impact on the environment. In 1996, the ICCM introduced the Charter for the Bereaved, which sets rights and targets to both customer care and also for environmental protection.

Julie Dunk

So it was a really useful document for looking at how authorities and businesses could actually adapt their services to make sure that they were protecting the environment as best as they could. In 2005, the ICCM supported 100 percent abatement to crematoria, rather than adopting a paying to pollute policy. In 2007, the ICCM introduced the Recycling of Metals Promotion Scheme, which has been incredibly successful. We've raised over 10 million pounds for charities and stopped lots of metal being treated or being buried in grounds, and also prevented the mining of new ores that creating new metals.

Julie Dunk

If you're not in a recycling scheme of any sort, then please do join. It's such a success. In 2009, with the Burial Cremation Education Trust, we introduced the carbon footprint scheme, which was designed to help assess our current carbon footprint and look at ways that we could reduce our carbon footprint. Next slide, please, Scott. Thank you.

Julie Dunk

In 2011, we introduced recycling of floral tributes, of plastics, and also in 2011, we introduced the holding over of coffins and cremation in a way to minimize the use of gas.

Julie Dunk

And then in 2013, we amended our diploma to include a natural burial unit, and we also introduced a natural burial charter at that time. In 2015, we looked at lowering the secondary chamber of cremations from 800 to 750 degrees, which helped save more of the gas. And since 1995, we've had lots of papers and journal articles on various aspects of the environment.

Julie Dunk

Now, not all of the things that we've introduced have been universally popular. Some faced out and out hostility, and they haven't all been as successful as we would like. However, I think going forward, some of the things that we have introduced will be taken up more and more. Currently, I think we need to look at some of the big wins, some of the figures that we heard today from Jon and some of the initiatives from Brendan are great. That we've got to have these big wins to get the carbon down, to help protect the environment. But sometimes they may take quite a long time to introduce and it could be quite difficult for people to introduce.

Julie Dunk

So there's just a few big wins that we need to be looking at. First, I recommend adopting the Charter for the Bereaved. We are actually reviewing that at the moment, so it will be relaunched later this year in a new format, but it will give you a direction of travel, support environmental protection. I think you also need to look at grounds maintenance. As cemeteries and crematoria, we have very intensive grounds maintenance regimes. We use a lot of diesel and petrol to achieve that. We tend to use pesticides and herbicides. We need to consider if that's the best approach. Some recent research has shown that bereaved people get more benefit from attending more environmentally friendly, a more natural site than from a manicured landscape. So there's a bit of research there to actually give us some incentive to look at our grounds maintenance regimes. \

Julie Dunk

Thinking about going electric. Think about your fleet of vehicles if you have vehicles, and your grounds maintenance equipment to help reduce the amount of diesel and petrol use, which will have an impact on carbon reduction.

Julie Dunk

We need to think about pricing structure. In terms of the polluter pays principle, can we offer a reduction to the cost of burial or cremation if people choose a greener alternative, for example, a more eco friendly coffin? Could that attract a reduction so that those choosing non-environmentally friendly materials actually pay more? Almost like a tax. And I think we do need to look at whether burial/cremation in its current form is sustainable. We've got to have these big conversations, and we need to think about any alternatives that are coming overall. Are they better for the the environment? Are they going to replace burial or cremation?

Julie Dunk

So there's some big questions there, but some big wins if they can be introduced. Next slide, please, Scott.

Julie Dunk

I think sometimes we can get a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge, which is quite overwhelming. 14 isn't very long. The fact is, we've had probably since the 60s to actually start addressing some of the issues. And we may have left it a little late in some cases. But we do really need to start acting now.

Julie Dunk

If you can't achieve big wins, then we need to look at little wins. I like this quote. "It's the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can." And I think that's really important. If I can have the next slide, please, Scott.

Julie Dunk

So I'm just going to give you 10 top tips for quick and easy wins, things you can do now, things that don't really cost a lot of money to implement and that will have an impact.

Julie Dunk

It may seem that you're only doing a little thing yourself, but if lots of people do a little thing, that turns into a big thing. So first, quick and easy win is to make sure you turn things off. Electricity continues to be used when you leave your machinery in standby. So your TVs, your microwaves, your ovens, that sort of thing. If you turn things off, you can save, most families can save between 40 and 80 pounds a year in electricity by turning things off standby. It doesn't sound like a lot in itself, but if millions of people did that, that's a significant impact. Just a word of warning though, please don't turn your fridge or freezer off, because then you'll have a big mess to deal with and that won't save any electricity in the long run.

Julie Dunk

Second tip is rainwater harvesting. Very cheap, easy to install, but you can save gallons of water. You can use that water to water your gardens. Your gardens of remembrance, your flower beds, your rose beds. Very, very, very cheap and simple solution.

Julie Dunk

Composting. Absolutely wonderful stuff, compost. I could probably go on all day about the benefits of composting and soil and earthworms, but basically if you can compost your green waste, your flowers, your floral tributes, then you've got that compost to use in your grounds, and your plants will be a lot better for it.

Julie Dunk

Bird boxes. Our bird population is really suffering at the moment from loss of habitats, through intensive farming. Cemeteries and crematoria can provide really useful spaces for birds. So think about helping them out. Different birds need different bird boxes, but you can get local schools involved. They like to make the bird boxes and help place them in the grounds.

Julie Dunk

The same for bats. Again, bat habitats have been eroded and they're struggling to find roosting sites. And again, cemeteries and crematory can provide really good habitats for bats. So encourage them onto your sites through the placing of bat boxes. Next slide, please. Thank you.

Julie Dunk

And the same for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are the nation's favorite mammal. But they are in serious decline, mostly, again, due to loss of habitat. And that tends to be because of large housing estates that have individual gardens with no space for the hedgehog to get through. Hedgehogs needs an awful lot of room to roam. They need to feed over a wide area. And by putting barriers in the way through garden walls and fences, you're really cutting down on on their roaming space. Cemeteries are wonderful places for hedgehogs, lots of places they can have habitats. But you do need to be careful if you're strimming or you're clearing an area. Be careful that there's no hedgehog nests in there. Try and avoid hedgehog nesting or hibernation season. Lots of information about hedgehogs on various websites. Wonderful creatures. Please, let's help save them.

Julie Dunk

In your sites, you can create log piles and stone piles. These provide habitats for mini beasts and insects, which in turn then attracts lots of birds and mammals, and that's cheap, easy to do.

Julie Dunk

It's really important to recycle everything that we can. Ideally, we need to prevent or reduce our use, but if we can't do that, then we must recycle. And it's got easier to do over the years. So pretty much everything can be recycled now.

Julie Dunk

And then planting trees and wildflowers, essential, help offset carbon and attract pollinators, ideally, sort of, native wildflowers will help enormously to attract pollinators such as bees and other insects. And again, that provides a food source for birds and mammals.

Julie Dunk

I think the final thing we need to do is spread the message. We need the public to be onside with this, and I think we need to give the public a lot of credit for being a lot more environmentally savvy than perhaps we think they are when it comes to funerals.

 

We need to make sure people know they have a choice, and can make positive choices when it comes to ordering things, like how do they get to the funeral? Do they need to arrive in a big limo? Can they take themselves to the crematorium? So we need to have these sort of conversations. Open days are great. Tours around your facilities always attracts a lot of people, and a lot of interest. And that's a really good way of getting the message across. And also, if you produce in-house communications like magazines or newsletters, just keep putting positive messaging in anything that you do to help the environment. Put it in there. Let's get the message out there. Next slide, please, Scott.

Julie Dunk

As I said earlier, small actions, small things that you do, taken altogether results in the big changes. Next slide, please.

Julie Dunk

So we need to take those actions because we don't want the same fate as these guys. Thank you.

Scott Storey

Thanks, everybody. Thanks, Julie, for that. That was very useful, very informative. The panel have been very busy answering questions while we they've been coming in. But there are two or three that are still here. So we've got a little bit of time left, so we'll see if we can pick these off. This question, I guess this is really for Jon, thinking about green kinds of electricity obviously still has a CO2 impact. Given its environmental build cost, transmission and distribution, infrastructure, decommissioning, especially nuclear, do we know how these compare to gas, which currently is the favorite primary fuel for crematoria? Jon? You're on mute.

Jon Cross

I'm off now. Thank you very, very interesting, multifaceted question, because there are several elements all rolled together in that. The issue with respect to gas is, gas is a fossil fuel. And as you said, you know, the primary fuel used by the industry, the crematoria. The concern, and if you think about it in a slightly different way, on average, each year we are sending up into the atmosphere in excess of 120,000 metric tons of CO2, and that's just based on 247 kilograms of CO2 per body cremated.

Jon Cross

That doesn't include, obviously, when the cremators are on standby or warming up, which uses gas, et cetera, et cetera. So ultimately, the big ticket item is, it's about the messages that everybody's putting out, is the moving away from gas to electric. We do know that obviously the cost of manufacturing some of these items, such as wind farms, etc., have an impact in terms of the energy required. But if you consider some of the biggest impact of emissions in the UK, apart from the generation of energy, which was coal, which is now moved away from that, is road transport or transportation full stop.

Jon Cross

And when I say transportation, I mean air cargo, I mean ship cargo, anything that's imported. So if you consider things like coffins is a classic example. If you consider coffins, NDF particleboard, the resins, the glue's, the formula used to making those all have an impact, whether they're burnt or they're buried. If you look at the the amount of embodied carbon in bringing in Chinese granite, you're talking about huge amounts of activity there. And one of the things that you'll find being talked about soon is circular economies and natural resources that we have. Why don't we consider things like local stone? You imagine if we could actually, instead of quarrying abroad in very unusual circumstances for some children or bonded labor, and transporting it halfway around the world, do you imagine if we could actually do something with the UK's natural capital? And we could provide things here in terms of new jobs, rural activities, and an improvement for the economy? But what I will do is, whoever sent that question in, if Scott lets me have a copy of it, I'll give you a more formal, considered response outside of this environment.

Scott Storey

Thanks, Jon. I think we've come pretty much there in terms of time, obviously, all of the questions that have been raised, we will actually premiere a response to all of those when we circulate the recordings. But for now, I think it's now time to close off today's event. So thanks again for joining us. I hope that you found this session beneficial. Take a look at the OpusXenta website, our blog section, you'll find several informative articles, to relate to not just today's topic, but several others.

Scott Storey

We are running a series of events over the coming months, so again, please take a look and register. The next two in this series are actively still here, and we will be sharing links with these with you as well. As I've said, we will be distributing recordings of today's events in the coming days. So please feel free to share these with your colleagues. It is a subject that affects everybody and we all need to have a hand in the resolution.

Scott Storey

So once again, thank you, everybody.