Can we Make Cremation Better for the Environment?

published Sep 28, 2023
1 min read

When we think about the impact that we have on the environment, we might think about the car that we drive, the things we buy, the holidays that we take or the waste that we recycle, but there is one other process that has a significant impact on our carbon footprint, and it is unlikely that you will have ever even considered it.

The sad fact is that cremation funerals use huge amounts of gas and release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, meaning that we need to give as much thought to our environmental impact after we have passed as we do to it when we are living.

To explain further, CEM Solutions, specialists in emissions monitoring, share their insight into how we can make cremation better for the environment.

The environmental impact of cremation

Of all of the funerals that take place in the UK, it is estimated that around 79% of them are cremations. This means that 245kg of carbon is released for every single one of the 470,000 cremations that occur each year. It is a very energy intensive process, but until now, there have not been any viable alternatives to make cremation more environmentally friendly.

The ashes themselves can be extremely alkaline, which means that they have the potential to be harmful to plants, animals, water and marine life when they are scattered.

However, there are now monitoring solutions in place which allow crematoriums to monitor their emissions, and new ways to conduct funerals that are better for the world around us.

Emission Monitoring

New emission monitoring services are now available to the cremation industry to help them keep track of gas and dust emissions. This analyses the exhaust gas of the cremator as well as the dust and particulate content that is emitted and generates data reports that can be used to show compliance with any local authority restrictions.


Whilst the environmental impact of a burial has never been fully examined, it is fair to say that this also comes at a cost. There are many natural and unnatural resources used in the making of a coffin, not to mention chemicals in things such as embalming fluid hat will then be put into the ground. There is also the damage that is done when the earth is disturbed for the burial plot and carbon dioxide is released – something which is exaggerated further if diesel-fuelled digs are used during the process.

Direct cremation

Direct cremation is one way that has been found to reduce the impact on the environment, but unfortunately this means no mourners being present during the process. The idea is that this can cut down on the need for embalming and travel to the crematorium.

Hydrogen cremations

The first moves have been made into creating hydrogen powered crematoriums which could be capable of reducing carbon emissions. This would use green hydrogen which is produced using renewable forms of electricity. This is done because no carbon dioxide emissions would be given off either during the production of the green hydrogen or in the burning of it. Whilst this project is yet to come to fruition, it is now being heavily researched in a bi d to create carbon neutral funerals.

For those who give a lot of thought to the environment while they are alive, it is understandable that they will also want their funeral to be as green as possible too. Coupled with ever tightening regulations from local authorities who are pushing to become net zero, crematoriums are now in a position where they need to give more thought to how they can reduce the damage that they do to the environment and how they can monitor the progress that they make.