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Crematorium metals funding charities

Metals recuperated then recycled after cremations are raising money for charity.

MORE than €80,000 raised by the sale of metals left over after cremations in Paris has been used to fund charity work and university grants

Around two tonnes of precious metals – including orthopaedic implants, but also old crowns, titanium hips, copper IUDs and even surgical utensils left behind after an operation - were recuperated from 5,500 cremations at Paris’ Père Lachaise crematorium at last year alone.

More than 30% now choose to be cremated, up from 1% in 1980. “With the big increase in cremations, the amount of metals has really grown,” says François Michaud-Nérard, Director General of funeral services for the city of Paris, which includes the crematoriums at Père Lachaise and Champigny-sur-Marne, told Liberation.

What to do with these metals - including titanium, cobalt, inox, aluminium, copper and iron - is a delicate subject, he says. There is no law relating to this question, and handing prosthetic limbs back to families, he says would be “indecent,” as well as not very ecological.

In 2010 the service decided to establish a foundation under the authority of the Fondation de France to use the money raised by sales. Now more and more crematoriums are turning to companies that gather and recycle the metallic remains, and part of the proceeds from their sale is donated to a charity of the crematorium’s choice.

Almost half of France’s 160 crematoriums have contracts with Dutch global market leader OrthoMétals, which says that there is a disparity between the French departments in terms of the quantity of metals recuperated. Corpses in Nord-Pas-de-Calais contain fewer metals, and specifically precious metals, than those found in Côte d’Azur or Ile-de-France.

The company’s representative in France said: “In France we have a turnover of €1,3million, but we donated €910,000 to crematoriums for the benefit of charities.”

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