Sunday, February 24, 2019

Used parts: a different kind of deceased donation

How crematoriums are recovering precious metals from inside the dead
Worth thousands of dollars a year, money from recycling metal joints, other implants, goes to charity

"The recycling bin behind the cremation chamber is the first tip-off that Elgin Mills Crematorium, north of Toronto, is up to something different.

"The green bin is full of medical implants, including titanium hips and knees, stainless steel bone screws — even gold teeth.

"The pieces gathered here were, until recently, inside the bodies of deceased people. Cremating a body incinerates nearly all biological material, but artificial materials can be collected quite literally out of the ashes.

"But the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Group, which operates Elgin Mills Crematorium, has adopted a system not only to safely recover these materials but recycle them with a rather altruistic buyer — who compensates them based on what they pass on.
"There are typically about a dozen metals collected after a series of cremations. Titanium from hip and knee replacements, gold and silver from dental work and jewellery, plus cobalt, palladium, platinum and a series of lower value materials from various other devices. It is then placed in a bin similar to what many Canadians use to take their own recycling to the curb.

"Rather than being diverted to a mass grave in a cemetery, however, the metals are collected by OrthoMetals, a Dutch firm that specializes in post-cremation recycling.

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