A crematorium has donated more than €30,000 to local charities from recycling prosthetic limbs and other metals collected from the ashes of the deceased.
Metal hips, knees, surgical plates and pins and teeth fillings as well as the coffin handles are all separated from the ashes of the deceased and sent to a company in the Netherlands.
Most crematoria that used to bury the metal or sell it on to local metal dealers are now collecting and sending the bulk metal to Orthometals which have 25 years’ experience “crecycling” and deal with 1,300 crematoria in 32 countries.
Lakelands Funeral Home and Crematorium has donated more than €30,000 to the local hospice and palliative care service in Cavan, which it has collected from the donation of metal body parts in the past five years.
Owner Declan Finnegan, who has operated the crematorium for the past eight years, proudly advertises the generous donations from the environmentally friendly process inside the building. “We have a state-of-the-art filtration system here which is regularly checked by the local county council environment team to ensure no toxins are released into the atmosphere,” he said.
“After a cremation, all organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items are transferred into the back of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan.
“All non-consumed items, like metal from clothing, hip joints and bridge work are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains.
“We collect all of these metals and, once a year, a representative from Orthometals in the Netherlands comes to collect the metal. Once it is back at its plant and sorted, it sends us a breakdown of the metals as well as 80 per cent of the value of it.
“Those proceeds have been given to the local hospice and the palliative care service since we started crecycling five years ago. It has amounted to €31,000.
“We cremate the loved ones of families from all across the northeast, northwest and the north of Ireland and many people these days have a plate or a pin or an artificial knee or hip. So there may be the equivalent of about four small containers full of metal.”
Among the metals which were crecycled last year were 35kg of cobalt chrome, 1kg of stainless steel, 12kg of titanium, 1kg each of zinc and aluminium, 200kg of ferro metals about 95,000g each of gold and silver.
“Last year we received €6,988 which we gave to the local charities and will continue to do so.
“Before crecycling, the metal left over from cremation was disposed of anyway. This way, it is environmentally friendly and charities which help people in their final stages of life benefit.
“We have the donations up on a wall inside the crematorium and the process of separation of metals from their loved ones’ pure ashes is fully advertised on our website so families know what is happening.”
According to its website, Orthometals was founded in 1997 by Jan Gabriels and Ruud Verberne.
“Before Orthometals introduced its concept for recycling these metals, there were several solutions,” it says. “There were crematoria that sold the metals to local metal dealers, there were crematoria that threw the metals out with the garbage, and another commonly used method was to simply bury the metals.”
Although the various metals are recycled into many different applications, the metals derived from prosthetics, cobalt chrome, titanium and high-grade stainless steel are generally sold by the smelters to the automotive industry, or are used as additives by larger smelters due to their high grade nature.