, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Kenyans can now bury the dead in an environmentally friendly manner, following the invention of a coffin made from heavy duty recycled corrugated cardboard.
The coffin known as Eco-Jeneza is already in the market and according to the manufacturers, East African Packaging Industries (EAPI), it can also be used for cremation.
"It takes four hours to cremate using the normal tradition wooden coffin but Eco-Jeneza will reduce it by half meaning we consume less energy and the carbon emitted to the atmosphere will be reduced," said Cor Roest EAPI Managing Director.
The coffin resembles the conventional one with a smooth finish and comes in three sizes:-small, medium and large.
"It is generally more affordable than the wooden coffin and deters theft of coffins which is common in Kenya," Mr Roest said.
The cost of the conventional wooden coffins ranges from between Sh35, 000 and Sh120, 000 while the Eco-Jeneza costs between Sh2, 500 and Sh15, 000 depending on the size.
"But the prices will be set by the various funeral homes," he stated.
However the Eco-Jeneza can only hold bodies weighing less than 120 kilograms and comes in only one design.
"Eco-Jeneza may not be for you if you weigh more than this. We recognise that there are people who are heavier because of the lifestyle," Mr Roest said.
According to the National Environment Management Authority, this kind of coffin would go a long way in reducing deforestation which will cushioning the country against the devastating impacts of climate change.
Chief Environment Research Officer Francis Inganga said the new invention would also help in conserving the environment because it is biodegradable.
"Its major goal is to change the traditional way of burying our dead aimed at improving the environment while ensuring that economic and social concerns are integrated into the end result," Mr Inganga said.
He said it would also help in reducing solid waste in the country because of the recycling aspect.
The Eco-Jeneza is manufactured with about 40 percent recycled corrugated carton paper and 60 percent virgin Kraft liner made with pulp from sustainable forests (paper mills that are certified).
However they also have a plastic component.
"The biggest challenge we have is culture and that is what we need to change and as human beings we are always resistant to change even when it\’s meant for our own good and so we take the resistance as a normal phenomenon that we can deal with," said the EAPI Managing Director.
He said that according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 385,000 Kenyans die annually.
"About 80 percent of them are buried in conventional coffins. A coffin usually made from soft woods such as camphor or cypress takes an average of two trees of 50 kilograms which have grown over a period of five years," he explained.
"This translates to 616,000 trees cut annually for coffins and 30, 800 tonnes of timber every year," he added.
The new coffins have been used in other parts of the world like South Africa, Europe and North America.