The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Are you a charitable body?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

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Posted by Ken West 

Have you thought about the scrap metal value of your body? It began with metal hip joints but as we live longer and spend more time falling over and head butting the skirting boards, metal bone splints now outweigh the hips. Body piercing has added tongue studs and navel rings, not to mention those bits dangling in the erogenous zones. A little bite is added by gold molars and, a fact that surprises me, all that jewellery people still leave on the body. Following cremation, this metal remains in the ashes, but do they tell you what they do with it?    

About half of the UK crematoria, often those who have adopted the Charter for the Bereaved, send the metal residue for recycling through a scheme organised by the Institute for Cemetery & Crematorium Management (ICCM).  Much of it is unrecognisable as aggregate, usually the gold and silver, all of which melt when the temperature reaches 1100C. But alloys, like hip joints and plates, retain their shape and uniformity. There are few firms capable of smelting this residue, which is taken to a very high temperature and the various metals skimmed off as appropriate, the ingots being sold back into the metal market. After collecting the waste metal from participating crematoria, the contracted firm pay an agreed price per kilo to the ICCM and this is distributed to charities nominated by the participating crematoria. The sum will be around one million pounds in 2014. 

What happens at those crematoria who do not participate, half of the total, a further million pounds? Many of these are the private sector crematoria, the ones who say nothing about metal residue on their websites. Worse, do they still bury the metal in the crematorium grounds, which was usual until a few years ago? If so, this is a potential pollution hazard.

Be a charitable body, and ask your local crematorium whether your bits will benefit society.

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3 comments on “Are you a charitable body?

  1. Tim

    Thursday 6th November 2014 at 11:34 am

    The next round of donations is due to take place in January 2015 at which time the scheme will have reached the £2 million mark in donations to charities that are nominated by scheme member crematoria. Cheques are made payable to the nominated charities and presented by the scheme member thus guaranteeing that the funds will help make a difference. I recall that when the scheme was initially launched some sensationalised media headlines were published, however these were short lived as positive public response was subsequently reported. Remember, it’s the bereaved people making funeral arrangements that give consent for the metal to be recycled so greatest thanks should go to them for making the scheme a success, not forgetting the crematorium staff that work with them of course.

  2. Girl on the Hill

    Thursday 6th November 2014 at 7:29 am

    That is an amazing amount of money! With two metal knees and about to have a hip replacement I must be worth a fortune!! BTW that picture gave me a start I didn’t realise that new hips looked like that!! Ignorance is bliss.

    Seriously tho that metal has to go somewhere. Which charities do the ICCM support? What DO the others do with it?
    Thanks for highlighting this.

    • Trooper

      Thursday 6th November 2014 at 9:20 am

      Click the ICCM link in Ken’s blog and scroll down to the ‘recycling’ link to see the charities that are benefiting.

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