Choosing The Right Coffin Or Casket > Timber & Cardboard Coffins

In the wood panels sector, we’re off to a good start – as wood from managed forests is a significant carbon sink, and wood products require less energy to produce than many other materials.

- Dr Alan Halligan
Australian Wood Panels Association

Natural Timber Products

Timber and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) caskets and coffins are primarily produced from plantation pine timber which is a renewable resource, from a sustainable industry.

Australia’s forest management is among the best in the world in terms of conservation reserves and codes of practice for production forests.

Only 6% of Australia’s 147 million hectares of native forests is public forest potentially available for timber harvesting.

Timber is only harvested from about 1% of these public native forests each year.

MDF is made by pulping plantation pine down to a fibre and compacting it with heat and glue in specialised machines.

This process creates strong, flat boards.

Once these boards are produced, a simulated wood grain paper veneer is glued to the surface to represent a specific timber species.

Timber and MDF caskets and coffins may require less chemicals, glues, energy and water to produce, than cardboard coffins.

Here Are Some Facts

Fact: Both MDF and cardboard are made from wood fibres (same origin).

Fact: MDF is denser and stronger than cardboard which makes MDF coffins more durable for manual handling and transportation.

Fact: MDF is more resistant to moisture penetration than cardboard.

Fact: MDF coffin lids are less prone to crushing during backfill following a burial.

Fact: MDF coffins are suitable for cremation and burial and have been used for decades for coffin manufacture.

Choosing A Timber Or Cardboard Coffin

Are Cardboard Coffins Cheaper Than Timber Coffins?

No, not necessarily.

Cardboard coffins range in price similar to MDF coffins.

Some cardboard coffins are comparable in price to Australian-made solid timber coffins.

Are Cardboard Coffins Eco-Friendly?

Not necessarily. The cheapest imported varieties can be shipped from Asia via diesel-powered ships, from raw material of unknown origin.

The locally made cardboard coffins are produced from post-consumer waste (old papers, magazines etc.) which requires significant energy, water and resources to be used to make the waste into a commercially viable product again.

The waste material requires ‘cleaning’ or de-inking with specialised soaps and chemicals, in large amounts of water, before being screened to remove contaminants such as plastic and staples.

Once the cleaning process takes place, the paper (wood fibres) can be broken down in water before being reconstituted again into cardboard.

This cardboard then has to be made into a wood-like material/structure to be suitably strong enough to house a deceased person.

Contact a funeral director about planning a funeral

Find one
Record your funeral wishes