Westerleigh Group has become the first cremation authority in the UK to officially adopt the new Environmental Policy Statement introduced by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA).
This reinforces Westerleigh’s commitment to continually review and improve its activities, the products it uses and the services it offers in order to reduce the impact on the environment.
Alan Jose, Westerleigh Group Ambassador, received a certificate from Councillor David Marren, FBCA President during a recent visit he made to Sirhowy Valley Crematorium, which opened earlier this year.
Sirhowy Valley was the first crematorium in the country to complete the new environmental compliance section of the FBCA inspection.
But Westerleigh Group as a whole has gone further, adopting the new FBCA Environmental Policy Statement across the entire group.
Westerleigh Group is the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 35 sites in England, Scotland and Wales, all set within beautifully-landscaped gardens of remembrance which provide pleasant, peaceful places for people to visit and reflect.
Mr Jose said: “Environmental issues are high on the agenda in almost every walk of life and had it not been for the pandemic, the environment and how we all might play our part in meeting the significant challenges posed would probably have made the top slot.
“Westerleigh Group has already been playing a leading role in adopting environment-friendly practices which have been recognised by our colleagues across the UK.
“We’re proud to be the first cremation authority in the UK to adopt the new Environmental Policy, which is a strong statement of intent from us about how we are determined to play our part to look after our precious planet.”
Westerleigh Group was the first large authority to adopt ‘holding over’ coffins for cremation the following day and was among the first cremation authorities to withdraw the plastic polytainer for ashes in favour of recyclable cardboard.
The group further strengthened its green credentials when it agreed to no longer allow the release of balloons or Chinese lanterns at its sites.
Mr Jose said: “Westerleigh’s crematorium at Babworth was the first in the UK to install NOx Abatement equipment, and we currently have five crematoria out of a total of seven in the UK to have this.
“Our development team is always reviewing construction methods which can make our new buildings more efficient, too.
“Westerleigh Group has an ethos of being a good neighbour, not only to the communities we serve, but also to the environment, as we seek cleaner and greener ways to operate.”
The FBCA represents almost 85% of crematoria in the UK. Its President, Councillor David Marren, said: “The environment has always been an important part of the service our members provide to the bereaved as it plays an important role in supporting the grieving process.
“The Environmental Policy Statement is to encourage members to focus more keenly on the environment, not only enhancing their grounds but operating in a manner which has minimal impact on the environment.
“We are extremely pleased that Westerleigh Group have decided to support the policy in such an emphatic manner.”
Roger Mclaughlan, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “We’re all aware of the climate crisis and how everyone, from the biggest corporate businesses to individuals, can play their part to be kinder to the environment.
“Westerleigh Group prides itself on having a very positive presence in every community where we have a crematorium and it’s natural that we would want to play our part in being greener and cleaner.
“We’re very proud to be the first cremation authority in the UK to officially adopt the FBCA Environmental Policy Statement but we’re not complacent; we know there is a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take time.
“But we’ve taken some very positive steps already and hope that other authorities in the sector will be equally committed to doing whatever we, as a collective industry, can do to protect our planet.”