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Limbcare recovers ‘the metal inside’

United Kingdom – In the UK, body prosthetics are classed as medical waste and so cannot be reused by law – but entrepreneur Ray Edwards MBE refused to accept there was no sustainable alternative to throwing out valuable artificial limbs. And so he devoted himself to setting up the country’s first dedicated recycling centre.

The new facility, opened by the Limbcare charity, strips away the plastic and resin outer coating so as to enable the recovery and sale of the metal contained within, recouping an estimated £20 (US$ 33) per prosthetic. The income provides financial support for the 100 000 people in need of new artificial limbs.

‘The metal inside such limbs is very expensive – it’s all titanium, aluminium or medical-grade stainless steel,’ notes Edwards, who lost his arms and legs in 1987 owing to septicaemia. Already, the recycling station in Camberley has received more than 1000 prosthetics from around the UK. ‘I think it’s a brilliant way for us to raise money,’ Edwards asserts. ‘£20 is a great start.’

In the past, prosthetics were either thrown away or buried when the person died, he notes. More material was wasted as people replaced their artificial limbs every couple of years. ‘Now they have an option to help others,’ Edwards says.

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