Metal body parts from the dead are being recycled into road signs, car parts and aircraft engines.
Steel hips, plates and screws used in legs and skulls are collected after cremation and sold on – with money raised going to charity.
High-value metals that survive the 1000-degree furnace are sold for use in the automobile and aeronautical industries. These include cobalt and titanium, which are found in some implants and dental work, with the former used in aircraft engines.
Other, less-valuable metals are smelted down and sold for more general use – including road signs, motorway barriers and lamp posts.
Before cremations, relatives are asked if they want to keep metal parts of loved ones. The vast majority say they have no need for them and sign a consent form agreeing to the recycling.
When the cremation is over the ashes and other remaining items go into a compartment in the cremator and then into a special cremulator machine which separates any metal from remaining pieces of bone. The metal is then loaded into large bins and taken away. At those crematoriums not signed up to the scheme, metal body parts are buried in the grounds, but new legislation means this will no longer be possible.
Ruud Verberne, owner of OrthoMetals, the Dutch company behind the recycling, said: “Metals reclaimed from cremations are being increasingly re-used. High-value metals such as cobalt go into the aircraft or automotive industries.”
The metals are being recycled, and this is a growing business both in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.
One of the crematoriums in the scheme, says it fills around one large bin a month with the unwanted metal body parts.
The recycling schemes are governed by strict criteria set down by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.
by John Jackson