Funeral Industry News

Precious Metal ‘sold’ After Cremation

August 26, 2009

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Precious Metal ‘sold’ After Cremation

image As a precious metals refiner, Leon Toffel is used to dealing with fine dust, perhaps produced at a bench by a dental technician. But some years ago, when he received globules of molten metal in the post, he realised there was a new market to be mined. Toffel’s new client was a retiring crematorium worker. “We processed it like any other scrap,” he told 5 Live. “Obviously he’d recommended us to his friends and operatives because over the years we get material like that sent to us.”

Leon Toffel estimates that five per cent of his business comes from sources in crematoria.

He has paid up to

“When people retire, that’s a classic time when they pass on stuff,” he said. “To a certain extent, it’s like a little pension pay-out.”

Nails and pins from the coffin as well as prosthetic hips and other joints survive the furnace after a body is cremated.

Gold teeth

This metal is separated from the ashes and has traditionally been buried in a dedicated plot on site or, more recently, has been collected for recycling.

Some crematorium workers who spoke to the Jonathan Maitland programme said that, although there was not much of it, it would be possible to retrieve some precious metal in a dull and misshapen form after cremation.

Mr Toffel said he has received gold teeth and items of jewelery.

“If I was being approached every other day from crematorium managers or operatives, and getting a very high amount, basic decency would force me to get on to the council and say do you realise this is happening,” Mr Toffel said, when challenged about the ethics of the trade.

“We are not that hard up that we need to be involved in any high-scale skulduggery.”

A national scandal

Mr Toffel might only be talking about relatively small sums of money but a much larger case in Germany has led to the conviction of six crematorium workers for desecrating graves.

“It was a very big story – it was even treated like a national scandal,” said Tobias Rudolph, who is a defence lawyer on the case.

In just two years, the six workers at a crematorium in Nuremberg earned more than