Metal recovered from cremated bodies is being turned into road signs and lampposts – and raising thousands of pounds for good causes at the same time.
Leicester's Gilroes and Loughborough crematoria are among dozens across Britain signed up to a metal recycling scheme.
While less-valuable metals are smelted down and turned into road signs, motorway barriers and lampposts, others, such as cobalt, are used in aircraft engines.
The metal parts include steel hips, plates and screws from bones, fillings, false teeth fixers and coffin handles and fittings.
Adrian Russell, director of environmental services at Leicester City Council, which runs Gilroes, said: "Gilroes has been part of the national metal recycling scheme, run by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), for the past 15 years.
"It's something which is only done with the consent of the family.
"It arose from the issue of what to do with bits of metal which can't be scattered with the ashes and would otherwise have to be buried."
About half of Britain's 260 crematoria recycle metal recovered from bodies, generating 75 tonnes a year.
At Gilroes, the sale of metal recycled from the 3,000 cremations last year raised £40,000 for charity.
The city council donated £10,000 of this to the Rainbows children's hospice, in Loughborough, while £30,000 was collected by the ICCM and donated to Cancer Research UK.
Mr Russell said: "The sale of recovered metal from Gilroes is £40,000 a year. The ICCM gives 75 per cent of the money to a charity of its choosing. We choose which charity the other 25 per cent goes to, and that is Rainbows.
"We have never had any negative feedback. It's something that appears to be a suitable solution for everyone concerned."
A spokesman for Dignity, which operates Loughborough Crematorium, said it had been involved in the recycling scheme for over a year.
Its chosen charity for 2013 is Marie Curie Cancer Care and the first collection will be made in the summer.
The Dignity spokesman said: "Loughborough Crematorium subscribes to a metal recycling scheme managed by the Association of Private Crematoria and Cemeteries (APCC).
"This is a not-for-profit recycling scheme for all metal recovered from the cremation process and the families of the deceased can decide to opt out of the scheme prior to the cremation taking place.
"Any metal residues following cremation are collected and any money raised from the recycling is paid directly from the APCC to a charity.
"There is no financial gain for the crematorium from subscribing to the APCC scheme.
"Loughborough Crematorium has been in the APCC scheme for just over a year and the first collection will be made this summer, so as yet I cannot advise on the amount of money that will be donated to Marie Curie."