Blog How Post-Cremation Metal Recycling Helps Charities

How Post-Cremation Metal Recycling Helps Charities

One sensitive topic that arises from post-cremation metal recycling is what to do with the revenue it generates. Post-cremation materials contain precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Crematories may be surprised to learn they can earn considerable extra income from recycling.

So, what should happen with this hidden revenue stream? Many crematories and funeral homes find that money earned from post-cremation recycling should go towards charitable donations.

Donating these funds makes sense on several levels. And a worldwide push for post-cremation recycling has fueled substantial funding for charities.

The shift to post-cremation recycling

Funeral homes and crematories are known for their keen sensitivity to the needs of the communities they serve. It’s a profession that deals with life’s most challenging stage. Involvement in the local community through charitable donations is just one way funeral homes and crematories stay connected.

A melter handling molten precious metals in a crucible.
Post-cremation metal recycling has become a “new norm” within the past 20 years.

Around 20 years ago, post-cremation metal recycling gained steam as an attractive new option for crematories. Previously, the metals left over after cremations were buried in cemetery grounds, put in the regular trash, or stored in vaults until there was little room left for them.

Things have changed. As part of the broader “green” movement, crematories have realized the detrimental environmental effects of burying post-cremation metals or allowing them to end up in landfills.

Mercury and silver contained in precious metals have been shown to pollute natural ecosystems. Not only that, but recycling knee and joint implants and dental scrap makes good environmental sense. It also lessens the need for things like more carbon-producing manufacturing and additional mining for precious metals like gold and palladium.

A significant source of good

As post-cremation metal recycling becomes more popular, many companies have formed to collect these materials and refine and recycle them. You may have seen some of the advertisements for such services. You may have also heard that the precious metals contained in post-cremation materials are very valuable.

In one transaction we did at Garfield Refining in February 2021, about one-half of a pound of precious metals contained in one 103.5-pound barrel of post-cremation metals was worth $7,074.23. The titanium, cobalt, hybrids, and ferrous metals collected from artificial joints, plates, rods, and screws comprised the other 103 pounds collected but were worth only $170.50.

Some crematories use the money derived from post-cremation recycling to fund capital and facility improvements. But for the most part, crematories use this substantial income to do a lot of good in the world.

A Garfield Refining-labeled crematory drum containing precious metals.

Who receives the support

Many of our crematory partners at Garfield divert all income from post-cremation recycling to charitable causes. It’s a theme that we hear again and again. Garfield Refining, and many other refineries, follow suit and donate significant funds to nonprofits. Garfield, for instance, is a longtime donor to Shriners Hospital for Children and the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

A melter pouring molten precious metals into a cast.
Refiners like Garfield use a sophisticated melt and assay process to determine the precious metal composition of post-cremation metals.

Post-cremation recycling benefits charities in other countries, too. In the United Kingdom, The Daily Mail reports that crematories nationwide raised nearly £1.7 million for bereavement charities via post-cremation recycling in 2018.

In Canada, a funeral home called The Mount Pleasant Group used the $44,000 it received in 2017 from post-cremation recycling to support hospice and palliative care in Ontario, according to the CBC. Meanwhile, in Australia, the Karrakatta Crematorium in Perth has raised more than $300,000 to help cancer patients since 2013 solely through recycling post-cremation metals. The impact of these donations, as you can see, can be very significant.

Ideas for charitable giving

There’s no shortage of organizations that funeral homes and crematories can contribute to with post-cremation recycling funds. But, ultimately, it’s up to the crematory to determine what to do with the money or whom to support. You’ll pick an organization close to your heart or a cause you believe in.

A few types of charities and nonprofits are natural picks for crematories to support. They include organizations that research terminal illnesses, homeless shelters, suicide prevention organizations, hospice centers, veterans’ organizations, and local police, firefighter, and emergency medical technicians.

You may already support a charity where the extra income from post-cremation recycling could find good use. You could also increase support for the favored organizations of some of the clients in your community.

Connecting to local communities

Funeral homes and crematories have deep connections with their communities, helping people through life’s most challenging stage. And undoubtedly, many crematories also give generously to charitable causes.

When thinking about post-cremation recycling, funeral homes and crematories can view it as yet another opportunity to give back. Post-cremation recycling helps the environment and, through the money it generates, it can also help nonprofits that do good in the world.

Post-cremation metal recycling is not just another way to dispose of metals that used to be stored away for years. Instead, when viewed the right way, post-cremation metal recycling is a vehicle for charitable giving and connecting crematories and funeral homes even closer to the communities they serve.