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37recyclinginternational.com | September/October | 2021
custom-made, specialised machinery
that suits our specific sorting lines.’
Meaningful second life
Hidde adds: ‘The sorted metals are
smelted for reuse at our partner
foundries. None of the metals will be
recognisably reused and will serve
other purposes entirely.’ This means a
knee replacement won’t see a second
life as a knee replacement.
An interesting part of OrthoMetals’
business case is that more than 50%
of the value of the recovered metals
is donated to charity. The Verberne
family underlines that the recovered
metals are 100% pure and that most
output is precious metals. Even so,
it’s fair to note that the additional
purification process implemented at
refining plants significantly reduces
the precious metal content. ‘If you
take into consideration how much
time and effort it takes us to collect
just one kilo of material, you realise
it’s not a high volume market,’ says
Either way, it’s good recycling practice
that is common sense, especially as
more people are opting for cremation
rather than purchasing a plot at the
local cemetery. ‘We won’t be million-
aires but we can make a good living,’
Verberne says with a smile. He
believes that recycling implants and
dentures is better than the unsustain-
able alternative of burying them in
coffins for thousands of years or let-
ting them waste away in a ‘scrap
graveyard’, i.e. landfill.
700 tonnes of
hoW does it WorK?
• As a first step, OrthoMetals provides each client
with the necessary wheelie bins or boxes for all
recovered metals. These are collected at regular
intervals, depending on how much material is
generated per site.
• OrthoMetals staff collect the bins personally with
a dedicated collection truck to guarantee com-
plete control of logistics.
• Once a vehicle is fully loaded, the collected bins
are weighed at the crematorium and the collec-
tion crew goes over paperwork with clients.
• The collected materials are sorted at the
OrthoMetals facility in Meppel on an individual
crematorium basis to ensure transparency.
Throughout the sorting process, individual items
are carefully weighed, labelled and stored.
• Sorted precious metal items go to a specialised
refinery to analyse the material for their gold, sil-
ver, palladium and content.
• Any non-metallic or non-recyclable waste materi-
al that is left over after the recycling process is
• Finally, sorted metals are smelted by partner
foundries to serve various high-end applications
(automotive, construction etc.)
high deMand for Medical Metals
The global orthopaedic implants market is a booming sector, expected to
reach US$ 67 billion (EUR 57 billion) by 2027, meaning a US$ 9 billion
growth over the next five years. Most of these medical items are made from
titanium or stainless steel (alloys), while a portion is polymers and ceramics.
Dental implants (titanium and zirconium) are gaining in popularity, worth
almost US$ 3.5 billion in 2020 and forecast to exceed US$ 7 billion by 2028.
As an aside, the US National Funeral Directors Association estimates up to
80% of citizens will choose cremation by 2040. At the moment, the top
three countries with the highest cremation rate (over 95%) are Japan, Nepal
and Thailand. The Netherlands, where Orthometals is based, has a crema-
tion rate of roughly 65%.
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