ICCM (Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management) is an organisation developing and promoting best practice in cemeteries and crematoria. In their report ‘Funeral Practices and the Environment’ they made the following observation:
“It is evident that floral tributes are present at the majority of funerals that take place in each year in the UK. With approximately 600,000 burials and cremations annually, literally millions floral tributes will be deposited at the nations cemeteries and crematoria in any given year. The majority of tributes are constructed using a plastic tray into which a block of ‘Oasis’ material is fixed. The flowers are then inserted in the ‘oasis’ material.
‘Oasis’ is expanded, rigid plastic foam and is used for its water retaining properties. Many tributes are finished using plastic ribbon and plastic cardholders.
Whilst the plant material contained in the floral tributes can be removed for recycling this is not the case for the large amounts of plastic materials used in the construction of the tributes.
It is customary for tributes to be deposited at the crematorium or at the graveside where they are left for a period of time. It is then for the authority to dispose of any that are not collected by families of those deceased persons. It is normal practice for authorities to dispose of faded tributes via conventional waste routes with the majority being ultimately deposited in landfill sites.
Whilst some authorities will spend resources on removing the plant material for composting there is no route for the recycling of the plastics this not being a commercially viable option for private sector recycling companies.
The Institute believes that guidance should be issued to the florist industry in an attempt to encourage an alternative to plastics used in floral tribute construction and consequently reduce the environmental impact from these items.”