Asian eco funeral market on the rise

HONG KONG—Death is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be bad for the environment.Caskets made of paper and wicker coffins on display at a recent Hong Kong funeral industry trade highlighted a trend toward “green burials” in an industry booming as Asia’s population rapidly ages.Read more: Ontario funeral service offering water-based ‘green cremation’Gucci apologizes for stern letters to funeral shops over paper knock-offsArticle Continued BelowChinese businessman Alex Sun’s company, Shandong Ecoffin International, makes wicker and seagrass coffins, which first became popular in the West and are now catching on in Asia. Basket-weaving dates to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in northeast China’s Shandong province, where Sun’s factory uses fast-growing willow reeds to make caskets that are an eco-friendly alternative to wood.“Eco funerals are a global trend,” said Sun. “European customers already know about this product, while Asian customers are also interested in it and would love to learn more,” he said. Interest is especially high in the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam as well as mainland China, he said.The mood was bright, not funereal, as coffin makers, morticians, funeral home operators and entrepreneurs converged on Hong Kong this week for the Asia Funeral and Cemetery Expo & Conference, a trade fair held every other year.