When we hear the word recycling, most often separating paper and plastic products from our household trash comes to mind. But paper and plastic are not the only materials that can be recycled. Over the last several years, there has been an increasing trend in recycling the metallic material that remains after a body is cremated.
Steel and titanium are commonly used in medical implants such as hip and knee replacements. These metals do not break down during the cremation process and are separated from the remains post-cremation. Crematoriums worldwide have begun to work with third-party organizations to collect and recycle the metals they recover.
According to the American Joint Replacement Registry, over 7 million Americans have undergone either knee or hip replacement surgery. Recycling surgical metals found in these devices can have a positive impact on both the individual families involved in the cremation process as well as the environment around them.
1. Keeps Metals Out of the Ground
Before the rise of recycling organizations, the crematoriums themselves were responsible for discarding the metal remains they collected. The standard practice was to bury the metal underground in a nearby cemetery or send it to a landfill.
Landfills produce two major greenhouses gases: carbon dioxide, and methane. Both these gasses contribute to environmental problems such as climate change and smog.
In the United States, landfills are the third largest source of methane gas. By collecting and recycling the metals foundin surgical implants, we are able to reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfills.
2. Conserves Natural Resources
Many of the metallic materials found in surgical implants are constructed with non-renewable resources. To create new metals, these non-renewable resources need to be mined from the ground.
When we recycle metal products that already exist, we can limit the need to mine for new base metals protecting natural landscapes and wildlife habitats in the process.
Additionally, when creating a product, it takes less energy to recycle and reuse the existing metal than it does to mine for new resources.
3. Saves Money
As the demand for recycling metal has increased, so has the number of organizations that provide affordable metal implant recycling.
Many organizations offer their services to the crematorium at no cost. The recycling organization provides each crematorium with containers to collect and store the separated metal. When the containers are full, the organization will collect the metal and deliver it to the sorting plant.
4. Gives Back to the Community
Once the metal has been recycled and resold, many recycling organizations return the majority of the proceeds to the crematorium.
The crematorium and the family of the deceased then work together to donation drop off calgary the proceeds to a charity of their choice.
With the help of recycling organizations, millions of dollars have been donated to charities worldwide as a result of recycling surgical metals.