Questions about cremation
What happens to the metal that is left in the ashes?
In the past, all crematoria removed metal such as orthopaedic implants and screws used in the construction of the coffin and disposed of the metal by burying it within the grounds of the crematorium.
In recent years, the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) introduced a scheme whereby the applicant for cremation can give consent for the metal to be recycled. Approximately 50% of UK crematoria are recycling scheme members. The surplus produced by the scheme, after transport, sorting and smelting costs have been deducted, is donated to charities nominated by member crematoria. By early 2015 the scheme had given £2 million to charities.
Precious metal such as jewellery left on the deceased will melt during the cremation process, combine with ash and become granular and hence unrecognisable. Some is lost within the cremator and some will be within the ashes. A proportion is found in the containers where other metals are kept whilst awaiting recycling. The Institute strongly advise that jewellery is not left on the deceased but is retained by the relatives as it is more valuable to them.
An applicant for cremation using a crematorium that is in membership of the metal recycling scheme should be given the options of either recycling the metal or having it returned with the ashes. The Institute believes that those crematoria that do not recycle should gain consent to bury the metal in the grounds of the crematorium or return it to the applicant.