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As a person with a metal joint, I was fascinated to read the Economist’s recent article on resource recovery from cremations in Denmark. It turns out that many European crematoria recycle metal residues after cremation, such as melted tooth fillings, joint screws, hip replacements, and even coffin nails. Some contain precious metals; others contain high value alloys. From an environmental point of view, it is far better to reuse such metals than to bury them, where they can contaminate soil and groundwater. English crematoria recycle metal routinely, with a client right to opt out: see English cremation permission form.

A quick review of the Ontario regulation on ESTABLISHING, OPERATING AND CLOSING CEMETERIES AND CREMATORIA suggests that post-cremation recycling is possible here, but no one in the funeral industry seems to admit doing it. Even the Green Funerals website doesn’t mention the possibility. Perhaps the Economist article will provoke Canadian funeral directors into action.

Danish crematoria are now considering expanding beyond metal recovery. The next step: heat recovery from the chimney. Well, why should it go to waste? We have much bigger mental adjustments ahead.

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