Green funerals become fashionable in China

Green funerals and high tech burial options were among the highlights of this year’s Hong Kong trade fair.

Hong Kong played host to the Asia Funeral and Cemetery Expo & Conference, where a massive shift in funereal practices was noted. Death has been a taboo subject in China for many years, but it appears that there is a newfound openness to discussing it all. With that has come a new range of entrepreneurial and ecologically-focused methods of burial and disposal.

Asia’s elderly population is an expansive one and, therefore, death is big business. One of the trends which has made its way over from the West is that of eco or green funerals. This year’s Expo saw a huge rise in the amount of non-traditional burial options.

The biggest shift in fashion is to replace hardwood coffins with wicker or seagrass ones. Some companies have even incorporated weaving techniques perfected in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) to amalgamate cultural elements with environmentally-driven ones.

Alex Sun, whose company Shandong Ecoffin International makes wicker caskets for the deceased, spoke to Kelvin Chan of AP about his work.

Eco funerals are a global trend,” said Sun. “European customers already know about this product, while Asian customers are also interested in it and would love to learn more. Interest is especially high in the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam as well as mainland China.”

Woven coffins weren’t the only innovative product on display, as Chan reported:

Participants were pitching caskets for pets, Italian hearses, German cremators with high-tech filters and Japanese mobile embalming units. From China, Truthkobo Jewelry offered pendants made with ashes from deceased relatives or pets while Shenyang Roundfin was looking for international distributors for its autopsy tables, morgue fridges and body bags.

Other items included a paper / honeycomb coffin for cremations, which burned twice as fast as wood, saving time, money and environmental impact.

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