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Kiwi Casket-makers Earn Eco Tick

Windsor Industries offers three ECNZ-certified casket options for the eco-conscious

For conscious consumers who want to leave the world a better place there is now a range of caskets that have achieved the highest level of ecolabel certification.

New Zealand-owned casket manufacturer Windsor Industries has become the first to achieve Environmental Choice New Zealand’s (ECNZ) ecolabel for its Waterford Eco Range. The range includes three types of casket, all made from sustainable New Zealand pine and macrocarpa, with an Eco-ply base.

Windsor Industries has been supporting New Zealanders to say their final farewells for more than 25 years. Client feedback and a growing environmental consciousness among staff led the casket makers to consider developing eco-friendly products.

Spokesperson for Windsor Industries, Annette Cunningham, says that team at Windsor is reassured that customers can take comfort in knowing that these caskets reflect a loved one’s values.

General Manager of the NZ Ecolabelling trust, which administers the ECNZ label, Francesca Lipscombe says Kiwis are increasingly environmental conscious in their purchasing decisions, and this also applies to caskets and funeral choices.

“To achieve the ECNZ ecolabel requires adherence to high standards of environmental stewardship, and Windsor Industries have certainly achieved this,” says Francesca Lipscombe. “By our standards, these are the most environmentally sustainable caskets in New Zealand and a sound choice for people who want to minimise their environmental impact even when they’re gone.”

To achieve the ecolabel, the team went to some lengths to find a sustainable New Zealand timber supplier that could trace its pine back to a plantation. Windsor eventually settled on a specialised contract forest management business that has Forest Stewardship Council certification covering 57,000 hectares of planted forest.

To gain the ECNZ (EC-32-17) Furniture, Fittings & Flooring ecolabel certification, the caskets had to meet a range of criteria across their whole life-cycle including:

· pine must be sourced from sustainable New Zealand forests

· best practices should be used when felling and milling the wood

· adhesives used in the laminating process must be free from toxic elements

· wood stains and sealers must be water-based with no toxic additives

· the plywood base of the caskets must be made from sustainable timber.

“Our team members were really inspired by this process and began thinking creatively about how to reduce waste throughout the business,” says Annette. “We started encouraging staff to take home offcuts to use as craftwork, and have purchased a briquette machine which compacts the dust and shavings so that waste is reduced by 90%. Power-saving practices are now part of our daily work life.”

Annette says clients say they have been particularly impressed with the lengths Windsor Industries has taken to ensure the caskets are environmentally compliant, with favourable comments on the natural colour range of the non-toxic stains.

The Furniture, Fittings & Flooring specification also stipulates that Windsor Industries must meet health-and-safety and environmental regulations, so Windsor invested in professional development to upskill its staff to be qualified in Workplace Health and Safety practices. It must report annually on waste generated and power consumed during its manufacturing process.

Annette says people outside the funeral business may not necessarily see the sector as innovative; “life and death are, after all, one of our only enduring truths.” Yet the leadership team has encouraged a culture of innovation, which has encouraged staff to find new solutions and try new things.

As proof, the team has stopped using packaging, and instead covers in-transit caskets with reusable blankets. They hope to soon achieve an ECNZ license for the Windsor Industries’ Dorset caskets, which use knotty rimu and macrocarpa, both by-products of the timber industry.

The team supports Trees that Count by buying native trees that are donated to families who buy a solid-timber casket.

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