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The Implant Melting Pot

Dutch company Orthometals recycles and melts down implants left behind after cremation.

By | February 23, 2012

Knee replacementFLICKR, MIKE BAIRD

Medical implants, such as knee replacements, artificial hips, and titanium pins, have become increasingly common to help fix ailing joints and mend breaks. But what happens to those implants after patients have passed? Until recently, these metals were probably discarded. But Dutch company Orthometals is looking to change that.

It’s a bit macabre, but the owners collect discarded implants after cremation, melt them down, and recycle the metals by selling them as scrap. The company recycles more than 250 tons of metal annually. And, while cremations rates are higher in the Netherlands, the company isn’t alone.

"I know the existence of five or six competitors that we have, most of them in the United States," Orthometals cofounder Ruud Verberne told BBC News.

Stay tuned for a story coming out in the March issue of The Scientist about how used implants are recycled for research.

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Comments

Avatar of: agelbert

agelbert

Posts: 50

February 24, 2012

Don't forget the pacemakers; they have to be  "harversted" (what an interesting term... As the proud user of an Adapta DR dual chamber pacemaker from Medtronic, I'm beginning to understand what it's like to be a corn plant) BEFORE cremation because they explode under intense heat. There isn't much metal in them but there is a market for used pacemakers and at least one corporation that puts them through a process that cleanses them of tissue residue from the deceased owner so they can be reused in third world countries (if their battery is still good for a number of years).

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

February 24, 2012

Don't forget the pacemakers; they have to be  "harversted" (what an interesting term... As the proud user of an Adapta DR dual chamber pacemaker from Medtronic, I'm beginning to understand what it's like to be a corn plant) BEFORE cremation because they explode under intense heat. There isn't much metal in them but there is a market for used pacemakers and at least one corporation that puts them through a process that cleanses them of tissue residue from the deceased owner so they can be reused in third world countries (if their battery is still good for a number of years).

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