This type of hearse of a new kind already exists in other countries, such as Switzerland, but their use in France remains limited to funerals which take place in a restricted radius, where the coffining, the ceremony and the burial or cremation are held in the same city.
“There is a weight limit. Obviously, I would invite people who choose this mode of travel to go for rather sober and therefore rather light coffins”, advises Isabelle Plumereau who specifies that “with a Corbicyclette you cannot travel an enormous distance”, at most forty kilometres.
“It may be possible in Paris, but in the provinces it almost never happens”, assures AFP Gautier Caton, director of a network of funeral directors of around forty agencies in Paris, in the region. Center and Burgundy.
And for Charles Simpson, founder of the comparator Meilleurs Pompes Funèbres, an evolution of the law to widen the use of these vehicles is unlikely: “Imagine that there is an accident between the bicycle and a car… The legislator does not will not take the risk of having a coffin on the public highway”.
This does not prevent funeral directors from developing other solutions for more ecological funerals, in the face of growing demand from families.
“We see that they are making an effort,” says Sarah Dumont, founder of Happy End, an online directory of funeral services. “Funeral cooperatives have paved the way, by informing families about conservation care, for example, which often uses polluting chemicals, which has significantly reduced the use of this method. Some, like in Dijon, also offer to rent artificial flowers for cremation, rather than buying them and ending up in the trash,” she adds.
– Humusation, aquamation and promise –
The Caton Funeral Homes also offer a document to families suggesting simple actions to reduce the impact of the funeral (by choosing seasonal flowers for example or clothes that degrade more easily for coffining) and ask their suppliers to use less polluting varnishes on the coffins or biodegradable padding.
“Families also ask us for cardboard coffins, which we order from them. But we should measure the overall impact of cardboard compared to wood because in France we have a very responsible sector for coffins and wood can allow us to consume less gas during a cremation,” said Gautier Caton.
This type of request nevertheless remains marginal in the last wishes of the deceased. “For the generation that is dying, the notion of ecology is still too recent. But in the funeral contracts that are being written at the moment, we see that the proportion is greater,” notes Mr. Simpson.
Other modes of funeral could also be considered to avoid the consumption of gas from a cremation or the pollution linked to burials: this is for example the case of humusation, which consists in transforming the body into compost, aquamation, also called “cremation by water”, or promession, which consists of freezing at low temperature followed by reduction to powder and which uses liquid nitrogen. But they are not authorized in France.
“You have to keep in mind that the funeral sector is very traditional because it notably affects beliefs”, maintains Mr. Simpson, “associations and public authorities are interested in the subject in a cautious way”.
For Ms. Dumont, a real “evolution” of the sector is in any case underway, even if it is “still fragile”. “The first thing is to inform families about their possibilities, because many do not yet know about these ecological options,” she adds.