Recycling metal replacement joints can help charities

Recycling metal replacement joints can help charities

Recycling is a common process these days. However, much of the metals used in replacement joints could be going to waste after the death of the user.

What normally happens to metals during cremation?

Small amounts of silver or gold will melt into tiny blobs during the cremation process. The families will receive this along with the other cremation remains.

Larger pieces of metals, such as those used in replacement hips and knees, will melt into much larger, more recognisable blobs. Some crematoria offer these to the bereaved with the ashes. However, until recently, most crematoria buried these valuable metals in the ground.

Why are these metals valuable?

The metal used for replacement joints is usually titanium or another premium ore. Titanium is expensive to mine so recycling it can produce cash and also reduces the need to mine more.

How does recycling occur?

The metals recovered from surgical pins, dental plates, knee and hip joints can be collected after cremation. A Dutch company, called OrthoMetals collects them, smelts them down and reuses them.  They collect metals from 1250 crematoria around the world. Since the recycling scheme began here thirteen years ago, they have collected, an estimated 350,000-kg of metal from British crematoria.

Who started the recycling scheme?

The Institute of Cemetry and Crematorium Management (ICCM) started the scheme in 2005. One hundred and sixty-eight of the three hundred crematoria in the UK are now part of the recycling project.

Is family consent necessary?

Yes. The forms of participating crematoria include a section about recycling. Families must give their consent for the recycling of the metals. Also, before the cremation, relatives should remove any jewellery which they wish to conserve.

What happens to the money?

The money obtained from the recycling of metals from cremation remains goes to charities. Usually, each crematorium in the project supports a certain charity. Often, bereaved families participate in the cheque presentation ceremony of the funds raised. So far a massive £4.3-million has gone to many different charities. You can check out which charities have benefitted from the scheme here.

How to find a participating crematorium

If you would like to find a crematorium that participates in the recycling scheme you can find a complete list here. Many bereaved families are comforted by the fact that they are benefiting others through the scheme. Additionally, they feel pleased to be making a green contribution to the planet.