Greener Goodbyes is a web-based application that helps you to model a funeral and calculate its carbon footprint. From the results, you can then choose to offset the emissions by supporting several established and accredited projects.
If one thing is offset by another, the effect of the first thing is reduced by the second, so that any advantage or disadvantage is cancelled out. In this case, the carbon associated with options of a funeral arrangement can be reduced by paying for credits towards an accredited environmental project.
A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent. Carbon credits are a component of national and international attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases.
A carbon offset is a way of paying others to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made elsewhere. This is often done by planting or adopting trees or buying carbon credits for an ongoing project. A purchased carbon credit is a monetary allocation for the reduction of Co2 emissions in the atmosphere towards a project that has already taken place, helping towards mitigating the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Carbon (in an environmental context) refers to the different greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. A footprint refers to the total impact that an activity has; in this case the various elements that make up a funeral such as burial or cremation, transport, flowers, and numbers of guests at a reception. The Co2e calculated by our app is an abbreviation of carbon dioxide equivalent, a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global-warming potential.
Greener Goodbyes is a web-based application that helps you to model a funeral and calculate its carbon footprint. From the results, you can then choose to offset the emissions by supporting several established accredited projects. The calculations underpinning the Greener Goodbyes Funeral Carbon Calculator Tool are derived from primary and secondary data. Primary data includes original information such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the materials and manufacturing of coffins, funeral directors’ operations and energy used in the cremation process. Secondary data includes published reports and academic papers around the environmental impacts of specific activities. For instance, the GHG emissions of cut flowers. The degree of confidence and quality of the data for the Greener Goodbyes Funeral Carbon Calculator is provided in Data Quality Indicators (Table 1) (Table 2). The Greener Goodbyes Funeral Carbon Calculator Tool was developed by JC Atkinson in collaboration with award-winning environmental consultancy Giraffe Innovation Ltd. The analysis (back end) was undertaken by Professor Robert Holdway FRSA FIEMA – Director Giraffe Innovation Limited and Mark Dowling – Technical Director Giraffe Innovation Limited. The following sections outline the various data sources used to develop the calculations enabled by the website calculator.
To ensure data quality, checks were completed on key data parameters using data quality indicators (DQIs) which are applied to key data parameters to ensure fit for purpose. The data quality matrix (Table 1) provides an overview of the data quality assessment. Data quality was further assured through sensitivity and uncertainty analyses.
|Factor||Very Good||Good||Fair||Poor||Very Poor|
|Reliability of the source||Verified data based on measurements||Verified data partly based on assumptions or unverified data based on measurements||Non-verified data partly based on assumptions||Qualified estimate (e.g., by industrial expert)||Non-qualified estimate|
|Representative||Representative data from sufficient sample of sites over an adequate period to even out normal fluctuations||Representative data from a smaller number of sites but for adequate periods||Representative data from an adequate number of sites but from shorter periods||Representative data but from a smaller number of sites and shorter periods or incomplete data from an adequate number of sites and periods||Representativeness unknown or incomplete data from a smaller number of sites and/or from shorter periods|
|Temporal correlation||Less than three years of difference to year of study||Less than six years of difference||Less than 10 years of difference||Less than 15 years of difference||Age of data unknown or more than 15 years of difference|
|Geographical correlation||Data from area under study||Average data from larger area in which the area under study is included||Data from area with similar production conditions||Data from area with slightly similar production conditions||Data from unknown area or area with very different production conditions|
|Technological correlation||Data from enterprises, processes and materials under study||Data from processes and materials under study but from different enterprises||Data from processes and materials under study but from different technology||Data on related processes or materials but same technology||Data on related processes or materials but different technology|
Table 1: Data Quality Indicator Matrix
|Coffins||Body Storage||Embalming||Hearse||Cremation||Burial, monument, urn||Church or civil service||Flowers||Travel|
|Reliability of the source||1||1||1||1||1||1||2||2||2|
Table 2: Data Quality Scores
The data quality scores show a high degree of confidence in the data quality indicators (DQIs). Further updates will seek to improve Temporal Correlation in certain areas such as the burial, monument, and urn.
The following section outlines the primary data sources whereby the carbon footprint calculations behind the Greener Goodbyes tool are based on original data such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the materials and manufacturing of coffins, energy used in the cremation process and funeral directors’ operations.
Coffin Type In 2019 JCA commissioned Giraffe Innovation Ltd to undertake an independent study on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on coffins and cremation processes. The work is aligned to the international accepted principles, framework, methodology and practices for LCA established by ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 the international standards governing the investigation and evaluation of the environmental impacts of a given product over their life cycle:
The lifecycle modelling was undertaken using SimaPro LCA software version 22.214.171.124 and Ecoinvent 3.6 database.
There is a high degree of confidence in the environmental data regarding Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of coffins.
Reference: Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Coffins and Cremation (2020) Giraffe Innovation Ltd.
Cremation The environmental impact (GHG emissions) of the cremation process is based upon the following primary data from a UK based crematorium:
The range and average GHG emissions of the cremation process was calculated under the parameters listed.
Energy use for the funeral service held at the crematorium was based upon the annual gas and electricity consumption minus the metered gas used specifically for the cremation process.
Reference: Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Coffins and Cremation (2020) Giraffe Innovation Ltd.
Body Cold Storage Primary data on annual energy use was sourced from two funeral directors. An aggregated figure was calculated based on the length of time the body was stored and energy (kWh) used for this duration from which the carbon footprint calculation was derived.
Hearse Primary data was gathered from two funeral directors on the average distance the hearse travelled between body storage to the funeral. The GHG emissions for a range of vehicles were based upon UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting .
The following section outlines the secondary data sources whereby the carbon footprint calculations behind the Greener Goodbyes tool are based on published reports and academic papers of specific activities available in the public domain.
Embalming ImpactThe impact of the embalming was based upon secondary data from a range of sources. The formulation of the embalming fluids is assumed at a 50:50 mix of formaldehyde and methanol. The disposal of four litres of blood was also taken into account. It was assumed that all bodies undergo embalming.
Horse Driven Hearse Secondary data was used to determine the carbon footprint of a horse driven hearse for 4 hours use.
Burial, Monument and Urn There was limited data available on the environmental impact of burials, monument and urn impact. Secondary data was gathered from one source.
Church or Civil Service The average energy consumption of the use of a church, hall, hotel or pub was based upon secondary data from a range of sources. In practice, this is highly variable.
Church of England Secondary data from Church of England energy efficiency practices.
Flowers The flowers impact is based upon secondary data from life cycle analysis (LCA) reports.
Travel and Associated Impacts The impacts of the travel to the funeral were all based upon secondary data published by Defra in the UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting:
It is assumed that 50% of the short and long-distance travel by car journeys are shared by two people.
This report has been prepared by Giraffe Innovation Limited with all reasonable skill and diligence within the terms and conditions of the contract between Giraffe and the client. Giraffe is not accountable to the client, or any others, with respect to any matters outside the scope agreed upon for this project.
Regardless of report confidentiality, Giraffe does not accept responsibility of whatsoever nature to any third parties to whom this report, or any part thereof, is made known. Any such party relies on the report at its own risk. Interpretations, analyses, or statements of any kind made by a third party and based on this report are beyond Giraffe’s responsibility.
The average funeral arrangement emits 2-3 tonnes of Co2e. The lower the figure at the end of your arrangement, the greener the funeral will be. For every choice you make within the application, a calculation is made of the carbon associated with that choice. For simplicity, an at-a-glance image of a tree indicates how green each option is. The larger the tree, the more environmentally friendly that option is. Once you’ve answered all the questions, the total carbon footprint of the funeral arrangement will be displayed, as well as a breakdown of the results.
A tree living 100 years will remove around 350kg of CO2 (please note – this is an indicative figure and depends on ground conditions, tree species and location).
Forest Carbon are responsible for the projects you can offset your funeral arrangement against. They lead the way in developing woodland creation and peatland restoration projects for carbon capture and ecosystem services. They have been responsible for planting of over 9.5 million new trees in 200+ new woodlands in the UK since 2006 removing over 2.000,000 tonnes of CO2 from the global atmosphere, as well as providing a host of other benefits to society, including flood mitigation, river improvement and public access. Their schemes are assured by the UK government’s Woodland Carbon Code and the IUCN's Peatland Code, both of which certify our projects in important areas like additionality, permanence, risk management and carbon capture measurement.
The Greener Goodbyes application allows you to go back and forth to amend a funeral arrangement until it suits your needs. If you are not happy with the amount of Co2e your arrangement emits once you get to the results breakdown, you can go back and adjust your plan which will automatically amend your Co2e results.