As we become more aware of the limited nature of Earth’s resources, we naturally become more interested in reusing the resources we have. Recycling has become increasingly more popular over the years as we become conscious of just how many resources we need. A process that was once seemingly limited to newspaper and cans can now be applied to many things: car parts, construction materials, and even implanted medical devices.
Yes, medical implants including pacemakers, artificial joints, dental implants, and more can be recycled. They are not all recyclable in the same way – some can be reused after sterilization, but some need to be melted down first – but these devices can be removed before cremation or burial and given new life elsewhere.
Cremation recycling services can provide a new lease on life to people who would otherwise be unable to afford modern medical technology.
What can be recycled?
The short answer is that nearly every type of medical device implanted in the human body has some valuable component that can be reused. Many medical devices contain metal or metallic compounds that are not only valuable but dangerous when thrown in a landfill. Metallic chemistry can be used to separate out the various types of metals recovered during cremation, and those compounds can often be sold to scrap metal dealers.
However, some devices are too valuable as they are to be broken down into component parts. Prosthetic limbs, typically removed before the cremation process, can be shipped to countries where the presence of landmines creates a great need for these artificial limbs. Even implanted devices, when properly removed, can be reused.
Devices such as pacemakers must be removed anyway since they can become hazardous during cremation, but they can be donated instead of thrown away.
Where do these donated devices go?
Organizations like Project My Heart Your Heart undertake the task of cleaning these devices and shipping them overseas where they can be reused. This project at the University of Michigan works with artificial pacemakers and defibrillators, helping to stop preventable deaths in other countries where these devices aren’t as affordable or accessible.
Researchers estimate 1-2 million people around the world die each year for want of a pacemaker.
Cremation recycling services not only prevent hazardous materials from ending up in landfills, but they can also improve the health and lives of people around the world. These marvels of modern technology can be reused by people in need.
In this case, going green does more than just help the Earth in a broad sense – it directly benefits individual human lives.