Co-op to offer fair trade coffins
The first fairly traded coffins, handmade from bamboo and willow by workers in Bangladesh, are being made available in the UK, the Co-operative said.
The coffins, made at a site employing around 70 people in the Nilphamari district, close to where the raw bamboo is grown, will be offered at more than 900 Co-operative Funeralcare homes across the UK.
They have been endorsed by fair trade organisation Traidcraft, which said the initiative provided hope for people in a region that has been blighted by extreme poverty.
The move comes amid increasing demand for alternative materials for coffins, such as bamboo and willow, as woodland burials become increasingly popular.
Research by Co-operative Funeralcare has revealed that "green" funerals grew 20% in 2011 and that one in 20 coffins is now bespoke.
The coffins have been assessed by Traidcraft, which visited the factory and growers to ensure the producers have decent working conditions and are paid a fair price, and that the suppliers of the raw materials receive fair payment.
Larry Bush, marketing director of Traidcraft, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Co-operative in a brand new area of fair trade. We have a strong track record of working together with the Co-operative Group to launch fair trade firsts.
"We are particularly pleased to be involved in this initiative which is providing hope for the future in a region of Bangladesh which has been blighted by extreme poverty."
Co-operative Funeralcare's head of marketing, Lorinda Robinson, said the launch of the fairly traded coffins was a "natural, if unusual, progression" of the Co-operative's support for fair trade.
"The growing consumer choice of ethical products and rise of personalisation in funerals is driving interest in such products. The coffins are of the highest quality and the fairly traded coffin endorsement will guarantee that the producers in Bangladesh directly benefit, as Traidcraft independently verifies that they work in decent working conditions and receive a fair price."