Recycling Artificial Joints After Cremation

With new lives among most of us following joint replacement surgery, death is likely the last thing on our minds. Since cremation or donating my body for research are among considerations of what to do with my remains once I’ve passed, the thought of whether or not my knee replacements would have to be removed.

I did some research to satisfy my curiosity and discovered a fascinating article in thePhiladelphia Inquirer’sonline edition entitled Ultimate recycling: Artificial joints after cremation.

A few key points from the article:

Specialty metals like titanium used to make joints are also used in airplanes but joints are 45 percent lighter.

Many funeral homes won’t advertise joint recycling services as to avoid putting off the public while others encourage recycling.

With the rising costs of traditional funerals, more people are choosing to be cremated.

Several crematoria once sent artificial joints and other non-combustible metals to landfills or collected it to bury in cemetery plots.

Harleigh Cemetery & Crematory Association in Camden and Philadelphia Crematories Inc. are among institutions utilizing Implant Recycling L.L.C’s services in Detroit. Implant Recycling is owned by a fourth-generation family of metal recyclers working with at least 1,200 crematoria.

OrthoMetals is a Dutch firm working with about 25 American crematoria to recycle joint implants.

California native Ray Saadeh founded the nonprofit Alternative Solutions USA in 2010, with a goal to end commercialization of joint recycling.

How does the process work and how is the recycled metal used?

Implant Recycling provides collection bins (about the same size as common recycling ones) which are picked up by a designated delivery service once the bins are full.

Once the metals are in Detroit, they are analyzed, sorted, and melted down before ingots are made.

OrthoMetals state no metals are implanted in another human, but instead used in airplanes, cars, and wind turbines, among other items. Understandingly, family members may not want their loved ones’ implants used in someone else. Several members of medical community also don’t feel comfortable using “secondhand” joints in their patients, no matter how practical recycling them are.

40 percent of Alternative Solutions USA’s metal value are donated to various charities.

With the aforementioned options among others available, would you give thought to having your knee replacements recycled once you’re gone (and obviously no longer need them)? Joint recycling is a good idea to discuss with family members and other loved ones. I’ve considered the idea with my own joints after reading more on the subject. For those choosing cremation, joint recycling is not a bad idea – just another way to save the earth.


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