Ecoffins is the first coffin manufacturing company in the world to become a member of the WFTO and is also the first UK company to become a member in the Peoples Republic of China. It currently employs 45 craftspeople in a remote and disadvantaged region of Hunan Province, and has become a trailblazing company in the region for the work it has been carrying out to transform their livelihoods. The local Chamber of Commerce have often highlighted the company as a beacon of best practice in the area.
The company has recently completed a purpose built new premises (financed from its profits) which was designed entirely around the needs of the people who work there. It has light and airy production rooms, catering facilities which allow for all the craftsmen’s meals to be supplied to them on site and dormitory rooms for the craftsmen to use free of charge if they wish to stay the night (they only need to supply their bedding materials). A computer room has also been supplied for the employees to make use of in their spare time.
Although the use of the computer room is entirely voluntary, the craftsmen are given training in basic computer use as well as topics like money management, health and safety, environmental sustainability and the meaning of fair trade.
The company is run along democratic lines with every member of the team able to vote in meetings which are held on a regular basis to determine how best the company should move forward.
Ecoffins has not however limited its Fair Trade activities to China alone but has developed co-operative relationships with other WFTO members in Indonesia whom they have been buying products from since 2008. After the Merapi eruption in Indonesia, Ecoffins has been helping its affected suppliers to rebuild and renovate their premises.