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.