How many of you have planned their funeral arrangements? I know. What a creepy conversation. I guess Halloween is coming and thoughts of vampires, caskets, and tombstones are dancing in my head. But seriously, have you thought of how we kill trees in the name of beautiful caskets that are ultimately buried in the ground? Acccording to the Casket & Funeral Supply Association,
“It takes 130 to 150 board feet of lumber to produce a typical hardwood casket. Some caskets require more wood if they are made of 3″ or 4″ plank material. While normally in the third cost quartile, hardwood caskets are sometimes the most expensive caskets manufactured. Solid hardwood caskets are manufactured like fine furniture. They are assembled by craftsmen; sanded for painting or staining. Some have hand-rubbed finishes.”
But with the world going green, why should we veer towards green funerals? Recently I spotted a discussion in a Linkedin group about eco- products. Bendt Skov of DanCof replied about his company’s environmentally friendly caskets and urns made out of a recycled product. The first step toward creating green funerals.
But, I questioned his product. Is he serious or are we talking cardboard box here?
So, via email I interviewed this ingenious inventor. I was not disappointed.
Tell me about your products?
I make 2 different coffins rectangular and trapezoidal, and urns.
How will your coffins and urn create a green funeral?
About 36 millions coffins are made by tree around the world yearly. I would like to replace many of those with a PULP coffin instead, to save many trees around the World, since mine PULP coffins are made by long fibred recycled paper.
Editor’s note: Bendv sent me a PDF about his products, and I wanted to include the following statement as to why his company thinks we need a new alternative to our burial practices.
“BENEFITS AND CONCEPT FOR PULP COFFINS
- In most countries it is required to use a coffin when a person is dead
- Most coffins are produced from chipboard, MDF or wood and contain a portion of formaldehyde and other environmental pollutants
- The aforementioned coffins are expensive to manufacture compared to Pulp coffins and not made from recycled materials
- Most coffins are very heavy, often exceeding 35 kg, which results in a coffin with a deceased person easily get over 120 kg, a Pulp coffin weighs approx. 6 kg.
- It is often the survivors wish for a nice ‘last piece of furniture to the deceased’
- 75% of the deceased is burnt and 25% buried, therefore it must be environmentally friendly recycled materials, a coffin was produced by that does not consume natural resources
- Coffins are usually produced in the same country as they are used, but to wooden coffins makes great demands on transportation, while Pulp coffins do not make major demands on transportation as they can be stacked, resulting in approx. 10-12 times more in the same place.
- Pulp coffins will be mass-produced and can be produced cheaply and distributed into a larger market at a price lower than the known wooden coffins.”
He further states:
“Our research shows that out worldwide by 6.8 billion people die every year 36 million, who use coffins (that’s ex. Muslims, Hindus, partly Jewish and others who do not use coffins), and if we get just 1% in this market must be produced 360 thousand coffins a year. Earth’s population will increase by about. 35% over the next 40 years, which will provide greater and greater consumption of coffins, whatever crises ups and downs.”
How did you come up with an idea on sustainable coffins and urns?
It was a sort of revelation. I was started to think about how to help the Earth, since I did not do it a lot before (I’m 62 now) and my daily thinking came up with this one day.
I have a farm in the country side, beside my job. I was sitting at lunch time reading the newspaper. My wife came in, and she had been at the nabo and bought some fresh eggs.
When she set the eggs on the table I was just at the death notices in the newspaper. And then idea came, why not make a coffin like egg trays in stead of using all that wood?
Of course my coffins are completely different and much nicer surface, like a woooden and painted one.
The years went with studying how to check and test the coffin and to get it produced like i wished it. Could not find any in China or other countries in the world. Then about a year ago I I found that a Danish company did take some patents in doing moulded board/PULP differently than others on the world market. After about a year working with them we are close to do the production.
Key Point of the Caskets and Urns
Editor’s note this is a great excerpt from the PDF summing up the eco-qualities of the caskets and urns so to be the catalyst to creating a green funeral.
1. The coffin is made of molded pulp
2. The coffin weight is approx. 6kg against wooden coffins from approx. 20kg and over
3. The coffin is environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Made from long fiber recycled paper, pulp
4. The coffin is treated with environmentally friendly material that is water resistant and can tolerate water in a prescribed time
5. The coffin is treated with environmentally friendly material which makes it compliant to the ignition of cremation
6. The coffin has built-in handle in the side of the coffin, the opposite usually externally on the coffin
7. Closing the coffin has been made without screws
8. The coffin shape is both rectangular (as in Nordic countries) and trapezoidal (as in several other countries)
9. The coffin bottom is standard with normal apron (as a bottom frame) but has a special angled seam at all four corners for inserting the feet. This has been designed for countries that use feet on coffins
10. The coffin interior bottom has a fold in the middle, so that Muslims can be laying on the side according to their burial rules
11. The coffin comes in any colouring a customer may wish
12. The coffin ornaments as crosses and other decorations are supplied separately for mounting by the customer wishes
13. The coffin belonging urn comes with the coffin and is made of the same material as the coffin. Colour can be chosen different from the coffin.
How long will it take for the coffin or urn to decompose?
It depends on how many % we add of an organic material, which we have identified in our research. In fact, I can decide when I produce the coffin, if it is to stand directly in water and at the same time filled with water, in one day, a week or, say four weeks before it dissolves.
Any glues used in the coffins? If so, do they contain any toxic substances such as formaldehyde?
No, only long fiber recycled paper and water used in casting/molding. The long paper fibers and our manufacturing method makes no adhesive substances to be added. There is only what is already in the paper.
Are they being distributed throughout the world? If not, when?
Not yet. We wil distribute all over the World, and are allso looking on setting up factories on 4-5 continents to save transport.
How much does a coffin and urn cost?
We have not yet priced it, but it will not be more expensive than existing coffins. And since more and people get cremated around the world, we will deliver an urn together with the coffin. A coffin and an urn can be ordered with a black bottom and a white lid, and the urn with a green bottom and red lid. Any colour combination. All the ornaments to set on coffin and urn like a cross, anchor for a sailor or hammer and sickle if there still are communist somewhere, and of course also in different colours.
Is there any lead times in ordering the coffins?
When we are ready in about 12-18 months everything should be from stock in different countries around the world.
Is there any known problems with the coffins being used in any cemetery to date?
We have been throught some countries rules and laws, and until now we fullfill them all. In many countries there are today 2 different coffins, one for burial and one done for cremation. Mine can be used for both.
What is on the horizon for this company?
We are at the moment finding investors to get enough to set up the organization, production on 4-5 continents, and sales people in every region.
We should according to our plans be ready in about 12 months to start the promotion.
Isn’t this an amazing invention? Molded wood pulp. A green funeral to say the least.
To get a more 3 dimension view of the casket, take a look at this video. Note, the video is not in English but it provide a good visual of the prototype.
Further note, that DanCof’s website only has a PDF of the product on the site, but does have contact info if you want to speak to Bendt. So, here is to a green way to heaven courtesy of Bendt’s wife. It only take an egg carton for an ingenious invention.
I am curious…
How would you green a funeral?
Would you use this product for your coffin or a loved one?
Have your buried someone using green funeral ideas?
- Biodegradable Urns: Where Death Becomes One with the Earth
- Tis the Season For a Greener Wrapping Paper Fundraiser?
- Green School Supplies. Affordable and Safe Via Green Apple Supply
- Sierra Pine’s Medite II and Medex, Excellent Eco-Friendly Plywood Alternatives
- Do You Get A Headache when You Walk into your Closet?