The value of “non-combustible” cremation remains

An interesting situation concerning “non-combustible” cremation remains was brought to light by this front-page lead story article in an edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week.


The article is entitled, “Lakewood Cemetery alleged theft spotlights market for metal implants left after cremation”.  It goes on to explain that a former employee of the cemetery, where cremations also take place, allegedly sold post-cremation non-combustible remains on the recycling market for his own benefit, and not the benefit of the cemetery.


According to the article, “He netted $306,500 in such sales from 2016 to 2021“.


The outcome of the case is still pending and as such I don’t want to comment more on the article other than to say it is a very good read and anybody involved in the cremation business should read it.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

Funeral Director Daily take:  I think a headline article in Minnesota’s largest newspaper that shows a dispute at Minnesota’s largest cemetery (Lakewood Cemetery), in a state that has reached an approximate cremation rate of 70% will create some talk about the practice of the payment for the recycling of non-combustible medical parts left via the cremation process.


As a matter of fact, by 8:51 am on the morning of the article I had already had two text messages from friends about the issue.


I’ve been out of direct involvement in the funeral and cremation business for ten years.  In the time I’ve been out cremation has greatly grown as a method of human disposition and the business of metal medical part recycling has grown by —  if advertising is any indication —- leaps and bounds in the death care profession.  As a matter of fact, Funeral Director Daily has been a recipient of some of those advertising dollars in the past.


The recycling, and payment for, non-combustible metal medical parts that remain after cremation has simply been something that has increased as cremation has increased.  From my point of view, it just hasn’t been something that the average death care cremation provider has thought much about.  However, I’d be surprised if this article, and potential consumer reaction to it, does not conjure up some ethical thoughts about the situation from both cremation providers and consumer advocates.


A Custom in Great Britain??  —  As I look for daily articles pertaining to death care to share with readers, one of the common items I notice is press releases in the press from the United Kingdom concerning donations from crematoriums via the process or recylced non-combustible metal medical parts.  It may be as common in the USA and Canada, but maybe not as prevalently advertised.  I certainly see the British way as an option for cremation providers.


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