Are Danes taking ‘green’ too far by recycling corpses?

deathDenmark is keen to show off its green credentials ahead of the massive UN summit on climate change to be held in Copenhagen in December. The progressive Nordic nation is well ahead of the pack with its grants for energy-saving home improvements and thriving market for organic food and home products.

But one sector where Denmark may be taking the concept of recycling too far is in its mortuaries. The Economist reports that the country’s crematorium association has revealed it has been making decent money on the side by recycling metal parts salvaged from dead citizens who are cremated.

Allan Vest, the chairman of the association, told the magazine that cremated bodies often leave behind items like hip and knee replacements that can be sold as scrap metal. Since 2006, Denmark’s 31 crematoriums have raked in more than DKK 75,000 from nearly 5,000 kilograms of salvaged metal that was sold to a recycler in the Netherlands.

Denmark’s government altered the law to allow this form of recycling in 2005. It drew the line at allowing spare mechanical body parts to be used in works of art, but selling the metal for scrap is perfectly legal. The law does not require that the crematoriums tell the relatives of the deceased if their loved ones’ hip is sold for scrap either. But so far this has not proved a contentious issue.

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