Truth About Metals After Cremation

Jewellery, gold teeth, metal hips and coffin nails  are recycled after cremation.At Roselawn cemetery, just outside Belfast, metals left over after cremation are collected from ashes.

They are then sent to the Netherlands as part of a recycling scheme.

Figures obtained by the BBC under Freedom of Information legislation, show that almost four tonnes of metal have been collected in Northern Ireland since 2010.

That is the equivalent, in weight, of four hatchback cars collected from the ash of cremations.

The crematorium at Roselawn is one of 260 throughout the UK that takes part in the recycling scheme, carried out by Dutch company OrthoMetals.

Belfast City Council seeks written permission from bereaved families to recycle any metals which remain following cremation

Recycle Process of Metals : Metals left over after a cremation are removed from the ashes with tongs and a magnet, before being placed in a recycling container.

The type of metals collected range from stainless steel and copper, to precious metals such as gold and palladium.They come from jewellery, gold teeth and fillings, as well as metal hip implants and ornaments from coffins.The materials are shipped to the Netherlands, where they are sorted and sold to foundries to be melted.

Some of the materials are sold to the aircraft, car and household industries, with some being re-used in the construction of road signs and electric cars.

Hidde Verberne, a director at OrthoMetals, was in Belfast recently as part of the company’s annual collection of left-over metals at Roselawn.

The typical reaction he gets when telling people his job is “What?!” he says.

He added: “But then when people think out it they say : ‘Of course it makes sense to recycle’.

“So families are made aware that this process is taking place and there is consent given through the forms provided by the crematoriums.

The Institute for Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) promotes the scheme on behalf of OrthoMetals in the UK.

It said the scheme’s aim was to protect the environment by recycling the metals, with some of the profits going to charity.

After it covers its operating costs, OrthoMetals takes a percentage of the value of the metals it has collected and sold. The rest of the money is given back to the ICCM.

Crematoriums can nominate a charity to donate money.

Since the scheme began, more than £5.2m has been donated to charities and 396 different organisations have benefited from the scheme.

According to OrthoMetals, the gross value of the metals collected from Roselawn since 2014 amounted to about €78,000 (£68,783).

Belfast City Council does not receive any payment for the metals recycled, and has donated £20,000 to local charities from profits made through its participation in the recycling scheme.

Figures provided by the council show the number of people getting cremated in Northern Ireland has increased in the last decade – but so too has the cost.