ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners in the borough say more needs to be done to cut fumes from cremations which can produce as much harmful pollution as a car driving twice the length of the UK.

Facultatieve Technologies, which supplies the majority of the UK's cremators, says it is developing technology to reduce harmful NOx gases (nitrogen oxides) which are a major factor in poor urban air quality but this is not currently in place in Dudley borough's crematoriums.

The majority of coffins used in cremations are made from chipboard/MDF and funerals using these types of coffins produce the same NOx as a car driving 2,280 miles or 3,650 cars driving past the crematorium during the course of a cremation - according to industry magazine Pharos.

DeNOx technology is being developed to cut emissions but it is more commonly used in Italy and Belgium where tougher emission level regulations exist than are in place in the UK.

Dudley Council chiefs have confirmed they do not have deNOx technology in place in Stourbridge Crematorium or Gornal Wood Crematorium, both of which opened in 1960, and while there are no immediate plans to introduce it they say they plan to upgrade facilities in early 2020 at Stourbridge, in South Road, which is close to two schools.

Councillor Ian Kettle, Dudley's cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “We will be installing two new energy efficient cremators. As part of the programme we will be carrying out structural works that will allow appropriate technology to be installed at the crematorium if DEFRA issues any specific guidance on emission requirements.”

He said £1.2million was spent upgrading the cremators at Gornal Wood Crematorium in 2012 with mercury abatement equipment - which reduces the pollution generated when mercury fillings in teeth are cremated - to ensure the authority achieved the national abatement target set by DEFRA at the time.

Dudley Green Party members, however, think Dudley Council and the Government should do more to help make cremations greener after the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency in May and Dudley was recently ranked fourth from bottom in a league table of the most climate friendly local authorities in the country compiled from Friends of the Earth.

Andi Mohr, chairman of Dudley Green Party, said: "We're very concerned about NOx pollution.

"We're in no doubt that cremations are contributing to this problem and we would like to see Dudley Council and local funeral directors work together to reduce pollution from funerals.

"Bereaved families should be equipped with the information they need to make more environmentally-friendly choices when saying goodbye to a loved one.

"Ironically, people with stoves and log burners are advised against burning chipboard due to the toxic fumes it produces, yet this is precisely what is happening with funerals as the majority of coffins cremated are made of chipboard. We shouldn't let the taboo around death prevent us from addressing environmental concerns."

Meanwhile - a Stourbridge funeral firm is doing its bit to bring about more eco-friendly funerals and encourage families to cut their final footprint with low emissions coffins.

H. Porter & Sons in South Road is offering coffins made by Gloucester based LifeArt who have developed coffin technology that reduces NOx emissions and uses fewer trees in manufacturing.

The coffins are made from a paper-based fibreboard that emits up to 87 per cent less nitrogen oxides during cremation than commonly-used chipboard coffins.

Lucy Porter, managing director of H. Porter & Sons, said families were growing increasingly concerned about pollution and climate change and were supportive of funeral directors who offered affordable environmentally-friendly choices.

She said: "We’re seeing more interest in eco-coffins and funeral products from our clients due to growing public awareness about the damage being done to the planet. That’s why we’ve decided to start offering LifeArt coffins to help our clients reduce the environmental impacts of funerals whilst still providing a choice in terms of traditional and personalisable coffins.

“The other environmental advantage of a LifeArt coffin is the handles, which are made of wood. This is much better than the commonly used plastic faux brass handles, which end up in the cremator creating toxic fumes, or when buried stay in the ground leaving a polluting legacy for hundreds of years to come."

Simon Rothwell, chief executive of LifeArt Coffins UK, added: “We’re delighted to be working with H. Porter & Sons and they’re one of many firms in the funeral sector who are deciding to do something about the environment. Our approach has been to offer a choice of traditional and personalisable coffins to satisfy a wide range of needs.

“We’re also clear that our products shouldn’t cost the earth from a price perspective. Historically, eco-coffins have been very expensive but ours are priced to be affordable and make it easier for families to reduce their final footprints.”