• Sweden's news in English

Swedish church wants to recycle cremation waste

TT/The Local/pvs · 21 Jul 2011, 08:21

Published: 21 Jul 2011 08:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The metal residue obtained after dead people had been incinerated could be recycled, the church argues, pointing out that each year 22 tonnes of precious metals are instead buried in Sweden's cemeteries.

Some 70,000 people are cremated in Sweden each year and the ashes are placed in urns for later burial.

But in addition to the ashes, knee and hip replacement joints or thigh bones made of expensive materials such as titanium often survive the 800 degree Celsius temperatures of the crematorium ovens.

Current legislation does not allow for the materials to be recycled, which is common in neighbouring Denmark and Finland.

"Current legislation means... that what can't be accommodated in the urns should be buried in new graves. This involves a lot more work for us," said Gothenburg funerals head Katarina Evenseth to SVT.

Story continues below…

The church has joined forced with funeral agencies and the Swedish Federation of Cemeteries and Crematoria to pen a letter to the government on the matter, but they have received a lukewarm response.

A bill is set to be submitted this autumn proposing amendments to the funeral law.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:57 July 21, 2011 by Rick Methven
So if they sell the 'waste' metals of the dead. Who will get the money?, The church or the families of the deceased ?
11:13 July 21, 2011 by Shibumi
They should not be sold but recycled to make new replacement parts for living swedes... taxpayers already paid for the metal once.
12:02 July 21, 2011 by johnny1939
There is no end of the greed of the churches! I agree w/ Shibumi but knowing the government they would use the proceeds to anything they would feel like using it for. Maybe we should leave well enough alone and just let it go back into the earth
12:37 July 21, 2011 by truthworthy
Why would someone be incinerated if they will be buried?
14:02 July 21, 2011 by Marc the Texan
So it's the equivalent of the mortician pulling rings off fingers. Both my parents have been cremated in the past year. I'd be pissed if the church thought of doing this in my family's case.
14:29 July 21, 2011 by Grokh
those remains should be given back to the families as im sure any operation that requires putting titanium into someones body requires alot of money , then they should give it back so the family themselves can "recycle" it
14:38 July 21, 2011 by el dorado
In regard to #2, the Swedish government very often refuses to provide health care to people. And since many are then forced to leave the country to find help, it shouldn't be assumed that Swedish tax payers actually paid for X medical prosthetic (for lack of a better word).

Medical personnel watched Rickard Leinonen die and did nothing to save him. Leinonen's family reported the murder to the police and the Socialstyrelsen. Leinonen's doctor said that there was no point in trying to save him because he would probably have only lived a couple more weeks anyway. The police sympathized with the Leinonen family. But the Swedish government said that it was okay to kill someone with a shortened life expectancy. It seems the Socialstyrelsen is more powerful than the police.

Since Sweden already lets its sick suffer and die, it seems very plausible that the government would readily harvest metals from the elderly and chronically ill for use in younger, more able-bodied individuals who can then work and increase the government's wealth, for example.

Additionally consider - if the metal is deemed government property, could it also be used, for example, in weapons manufacturing?

Why not let individuals decide what happens to their body parts? You (or a surviving family member) may choose if the prosthetic is to be buried with you. You may choose if it is donated to the medical community, etc.
01:38 July 22, 2011 by stillwatersrd
I just want to know what happens to the silver, gold and platinum. It would be a shame to bury those metals again, given how many resources are used to mine them the first time.
05:42 July 22, 2011 by Da Goat
It is a lot stupid to bury valuable things like that the metal should be offered to the family and if they don't want it should be sold and the value taken off the funeral expenses!

If they are burying Gold and the like they would be tempting robbers for sure, make a map and in a year or so I can come along and do some archeology on the site!
09:42 July 22, 2011 by bs3eggs
I think everyone is over estimating the value of this metal its an average of about 285 grams, the majority of which is almost certainly not that valuable the current yearly high is 22 dolars for a lb of titanium, not exactly worth worrying about. Why would there be gold and platinum groups? old fillings i suppose but otherwise just jewellery which could be removed before, if the family wanted it.

I agree that it is a shame to bury again but based on the scale of our mining 20 tons of mixed metals is a drop in the ocean..
Today's headlines
Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available