Dying in Spain is not cheap.
The OCU has found that a "simple" funeral service costs an average of 3,500 euros.
Despite this, the price differences between cities are puzzling.
In Cuenca or Las Palmas a funeral costs less than the average for Spain.
Just on the opposite side, both in Madrid and Barcelona, a funeral service exceeds 5,000 euros.
Despite criticism, funeral homes have always blocked initiatives that make their services cheaper.
One of the latest ideas was carried out by Javier Ferrándiz from Madrid when in 2009 he designed a cardboard coffin that would cost family members between 100 and 300 euros compared to between 800 and 1,000 euros for the cheapest wooden coffins.
Now a funeral home in Manresa has acquired the product and is already marketing it.
There is no truce to place tombstones
Javier Ferrándiz created the company RestGreen ecological coffins and undertook a chain of obstacles until he managed to approve its creation, in 2013. Still, nobody bought it from him.
“The sector is made up of families who do not want anyone to enter but themselves.
They have not wanted to buy the cardboard coffin and therefore they do not offer this service ”, denounces Ferrándiz.
The cardboard coffin was a project almost kept in a drawer until last fall Eternam, a modest funeral home in Manresa (Barcelona), bought several units and started a change within the sector.
Jesús Sánchez is one of Eternam's advisers: “Our philosophy is the right price.
Like all funeral homes, we have a markup, but ours is fair.
We only offer three types of caskets: the cardboard one, the ecological one for incineration and the normal one ”.
Eternam has thus become the first funeral home to offer the cardboard coffin devised by RestGreen.
“My coffin supports 100 kilos.
Actually, it exceeds 150. It measures the same as a wooden coffin and we sell it in three colors: ecru, white and with a wood-colored water-stained.
We also offer a wooden container casket in which the deceased is placed inside the cardboard casket to keep it safe.
This kind of wooden lining is used again in wakes and thus has a much longer life cycle ”, highlights Ferrándiz.
"It is ecological, it does not have varnish, it only needs one hour of incineration instead of two, you can print the photo of the deceased, a flag ... and it also has a handmade treatment, since we buy it unassembled, it is easily transported and assembled at the moment ”, highlights Sánchez.
The Eternam advisor is clear why the rest of the companies did not buy the cardboard casket: “What funeral homes do is apply an extra cost on the coffins for the final sale.
In the cardboard one it cannot be done.
We offer a basic funeral service - no wake, no wreaths, no reminders, no music ... - for between 1,600 and 1,700 euros.
A part is burial or cremation [in Barcelona it costs 550 euros].
Large funeral homes, on the one hand, apply extra costs to the coffin - sometimes multiplying its real price by 10 - and on the other, they misinform users for their benefit.
Many people believe that they are obliged to resort to the funeral home when it is legal to watch at home ”.
“In cities like Zaragoza or Valencia there are public funeral homes and small funeral homes rent the rooms.
On the other hand, in cities like Barcelona or Girona, funeral homes are the owners of funeral homes and it is impossible to enter ”, he denounces.
Sánchez warns that there is a change in mentality among users to stop "speculating" with prices.
"We must not forget that a funeral service is mandatory and immediately hired when a loved one dies," he highlights.
The technical director of Eternam, Luz Helena Bustos, highlights: “The packaging of a corpse in a cardboard coffin is identical to that of a wooden one.
The only difference is that we want to provide an ecological service with a fair price.
We are in favor of the economy of the fourth sector, where there is no place for economic speculation ”.
For its part, Altima, one of the great Catalan funeral homes, assured EL PAÍS yesterday that its refusal to introduce the cardboard coffin into its catalog "is not a question of price but of lack of demand."
Ferrándiz offered the Community of Madrid his cardboard coffin, at cost, when the death rate began to grow in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus.
“I sell it for 100 euros and I earn very little.
I offered it even less.
They told me to negotiate with the funeral homes.
They did not let me in and the truth is that cardboard coffins are a much more effective solution in emergencies and catastrophes.
Effective and energy efficient because in a 40-foot container we could transport 240 cardboard coffins while wooden ones would be around 110 ”, he laments.
"In addition, the incineration is faster with the cardboard coffin reaching 1,200 degrees earlier and thus saving time and gas", highlights the founder of RestGreen.
The 'Apple' of ecological coffins
Ferrándiz is not the only one who has embarked on the adventure of cardboard coffins. Also in Manresa, the DEC-Dissenys amb Cartró company has been promoting three models of coffins since 2013, one of them designed by the fashion designer Miriam Ponsa. The architect Jordi García was the architect of the invention. He defends that his idea was to build cardboard coffins of the same quality as a wooden coffin. "It is not original to make a cardboard coffin but what I thought about was to make a high quality product that does not need to consume as much raw material as wood and thus helps to preserve the environment", he highlights. DEC-Dissenys amb Cartró models have natural wood elements that allow the coffin to be closed. The price is similar to that of wood. “My coffins are the Apple of cardboard coffins. They are, in terms of appearance and quality, one of the best in Europe. But that does not mean anything, you can have a very good product and not be able to sell it. We are faced with opposition from the market, which is in the hands of funeral homes and they are opposed to incorporating these models, ”laments García.