Green Funeral and Burial Services - Feasibility Study

The Community Development Company of Nesting (CDCN) has secured funding through the Scottish Government’s CLLD scheme, the SIC's Econonomic Development Grant Scheme, and the Shetland Community Benefit Fund to research environmentally-friendly options for funeral and burial services in Shetland.

The feasibility study will initially assess the provision of three core services: the building of a facility for water cremation (a process of alkaline hydrolysis also known under the trademark ‘Resomation’), green burial sites, and themed funeral and memorial ceremonies. However, CDCN is also open to considering other service options which may be identified through the study.

Working with Community Enterprise Scotland, CDCN aims to understand current gaps in the provision of such services locally and also whether CDCN could potentially help ease capacity issues for some existing services.

Income generated through the provision of these services would then be used to help financially safeguard the future of community projects in Nesting, Girlsta and Wadbister – the areas which CDCN represents.

An important part of the study is to avoid looking at options which would mean CDCN competing with existing local businesses or services in the funeral industry.

When CDCN began to consider exploring options for starting up one or more social enterprises to provide funeral and burial services, it was stated early on that it is important to avoid duplicating existing local services – unless of course the entities providing those services would welcome it, such as if they felt that they are operating beyond their own capacities.

CDCN’s study comes at a time when perceptions and choices relating to funerals appear to be changing in the UK. A recent YouGov survey found that, whilst 89% of UK adults had not heard of Resomation™, once explained, just under a third (29%) said they would choose this option for their own funeral if it was available.

Furthermore, the Association of Natural Burial Grounds reports that there are now over 270 green/ natural burial sites in the UK.

Such changes in perceptions around funerals and burials are possibly the result of growing awareness of the environmental impacts of processes such as cremation. Therefore, CDCN feels that this is the right time to explore whether people in Shetland are also more open to the kinds of services which CDCN may look to provide.

Community Enterprise will be conducting research with Shetland communities, as well as with people overseas who might be interested in themed ceremonies.

*Photo courtesy of Community Enterprise Scotland

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