Now you can save the planet even after you've died

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Using energy-saving light-bulbs and abandoning gas-guzzling cars are among the lifestyle changes adopted to combat climate change. Now the environmentally conscious are being asked to go one step further and help save the planet after death.

The new target in the fight to cut emissions is funerals. Cremation, the choice of almost three-quarters of UK families and once applauded as the most environmentally friendly funeral option, is being criticised as a source of damaging greenhouse gases.

MPs, local councils and green groups are urging the public to choose forms of departure that won't contribute to global warming - including green burials in cardboard coffins under trees - and cremations using easy-to-burn coffins.

Tim Loughton, the Tory health spokesman, has asked the Department for Trade and Industry to encourage crematoria to recycle energy and heat created to boost their energy efficiency. He said they could be linked to local schools or businesses as an energy source.

"There is an enormous waste of energy in these places. It would be quite easy to reuse the heat in a constructive way. This is a sustainable supply of energy," he said.

There are 250 crematoria in Britain and about 75 per cent of people are cremated. The industry has recently been told to fit filters to halve the amount of mercury, from fillings, released into the atmosphere. But now crematoria are being criticised for contributing to climate change.

Under the law, crematoria have to operate at 850C. But operators, mindful of the need to aid the environment, recently asked Ben Bradshaw, the environment minister, to change the rules and allow them to reduce the heat in their furnaces.