YOU might think that you get the last word on your own funeral.
But not at Robin Hood Cemetery and Crematorium where the decision to ban the majority of increasingly popular ‘eco-coffins’ is being met with stiff opposition.
In a letter dated October 2, the head of bereavement services at Solihull Council, Gordon Hull, told local funeral directors that coffins made of organic material such as banana leaf, water hyacinth or recycled paper would be refused. The crackdown on caskets came after a sea grass coffin left a “sticky substance” in the cremator.
Mr Hull has warned that if funeral directors didn’t check the material ahead of their arrival at the crematorium, then “we may be placed in a position whereby we may have to refuse the coffin at the point of entry into the chapel.
“This would have an unacceptable and devastating impact on the family and could have significant financial and reputational implications for the funeral director concerned,” he added.
But Alan Slater, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said he was “extremely concerned to hear that bereaved families may be prevented from using the coffin or casket of their choice.”
Bruce Bragg, of Thomas Bragg & Sons Ltd Funeral Directors, in Stratford Road, blamed the crematorium for jumping the gun.
“We know that Robin Hood Crematorium is the only one that objected to certain styles,” he said. “Robin Hood are always the first to ban it and think about it later.
“All funeral directors sell these eco-coffins. A lot of people feel that they want something made of a natural product, not MDF and chipboard. Families want choice.” Turn to Page 5
“It could cost the council money as people will go somewhere they can have the coffin of their choice.”
Wicker, bamboo, willow and traditional coffins will continue to be accepted at Robin Hood while a Solihull Council spokeswoman said the crematorium would accept all coffins assessed as suitable once a national standard had been agreed.
“We are not banning all eco-friendly coffins for cremation however, there are some that are known or suspected to cause damage and we cannot accept these coffins for cremation within Solihull crematoria,” she added.
“The decision to prohibit the use of a small number of coffin types for cremation has not been taken lightly.”
Neighbouring local authority Birmingham City Council confirmed their crematoriums had “no restrictions” on eco-coffins at present.
The surge in popularity of eco-funerals has been driven by those who want to reduce their carbon footprint.