Every year, millions of pacemakers, metal hips, and prosthetics outlast the bodies they're designed for. But these medical devices could very well go on to have a second-life—in cars, wind turbines, and even another person.
The implants are, after all, full of valuable metals like titanium or cobalt alloy. Cremation makes the metals easily recoverable, writes Frank Swain in a fascinating investigation into the afterlife of medical devices.
The Dutch company Orthometals, for example, collects 250 tons of metal every year from European crematoriums and sells it all to car and airplane manufacturers. The city of Bristol in England has even proposed recycling these metals into road signs. And, in the U.S., Implant Recycling sells crematorium metal back to medical device makers. So there's never telling where grandma's old hip might end up.