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Belfast crematorium recycles metal without telling families - as does one in Republic

Most crematoriums in the Republic say they inform families of the ‘sensitive recycling’ – but one says it’s up to funeral directors to let them know.

Image: coffin via Shutterstock

Updated 7pm

A CREMATORIUM IN Northern Ireland has been criticised for recycling leftover metal without informing the families.

It has emerged that the same recycling company,  Orthometals, is  also used by some crematoriums in the Republic, but efforts are made to inform the families.

However in one crematorium, it’s possible that the families are unaware of the process.

A report yesterday on TheDetail.tv revealed that two tonnes of metal had been recycled from Roselawn Crematorium in Northern Ireland over the past four years. Families were not informed of this process.

The scheme involves the metal being ‘sensitively’ recycled by a Dutch company, before it is sold on for use in various industries.

Most of the metal comes from nails and other metal from the coffin itself, while only a very small percentage is metals like gold or silver.

“All orthopedic implants and metal remains following cremation are recycled in the most appropriate manner complying with existing local legislation,” a statement on Orthometals website read.

After expenses have been recouped, the profit is donated to charity.

Five Irish crematoriums – Mount Jerome and those operated by Glasnevin Trust – engage in this same scheme.

A spokesperson for Glasnevin Trust said that the recycling process is clearly outlined online in an extensive FAQ section for families, where they are directed to if any questions arise.

“All metals remaining after cremation are disposed of in the most suitable manner to reduce the impact on our environment. This will include the sensitive recycling of orthopaedic implants and metal residues in compliance with existing laws,” the website reads.

All metals are recycled using a fully certified and registered company with more than 15 years of experience. Orthometals BV conduct the collection and recycling of metals for more than 450 crematoria worldwide in 15 different countries.

Any profits are returned to Glasnevin Trust, which is a registered charity.

Mount Jerome also details the scheme in full on its website, noting that profits are donated to Our Lady’s Hospice.

The process has so far raised €3,000 in 2014.

A form signed by the kin also informs them of this process.

PastedImage-87662 The form filled out by the next of kin. Source: Mount Jerome Crematorium

Click here to view a larger version.

Island Crematory in Cork said that they had no contact with families involved, and that it was up to the funeral directors to inform them that any residual metal would be recycled by “a local company”.

Manager Frank Murphy said that in some cases, they may not be fully aware of the process.

He added there is no profit made by the crematory for this process, and that he will be reviewing the situation in further looking to come in line with other crematoriums in Ireland.

Murphy noted that the metal left over is usually very minimal and mostly consists of coffin materials, and that jewellery is unrecoverable due to the high temperatures.

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors said the responsibility for this process lies with the management of individual crematoriums.

In a statement issued yesterday, Belfast City Council stressed that it receives no funds from the process.

BCC acknowledges that it needs to improve processes in line with good practice and this work is ongoing.

In response to queries, the council said that “it is not deemed necessary to provide this information [about the recycling process] and no family has ever requested it.

“However, we keep this under review.”

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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