Satisfaction - Cremation Recycling

By: Kevin McKay
Sunday, July 30, 2023

As consumers, we’re conditioned to seek out the best deals. Whether it be a vehicle purchase or how much we pay for groceries, we always want to get the best deal. This is where ad agencies prove their merit by perfectly tailoring the solicitation to us to make sure we buy that specific product or service – makes me think of the song “Satisfaction” by the Stones where Jagger sings “A man comes on and tells me, how white my shirts can be”.

But it’s also key to make sure we aren’t sacrificing quality for the illusion of a great price or fee. There are countless examples of too-good-to-be-true offers in the world, especially since the advent of the internet, which gives a global platform for deceptive practices. Common sense should prevail, but what about when the appeal comes from a position of authority? From doctors “preferring” a certain brand of cigarettes back in the 1940s to incredible weight-loss claims still touted today, it can be very difficult to tell whether we’re being deceived or being given sound advice. This is never more true than when considering a metal recycler
for your crematory.

Intuitively, when crematory owners are looking into our company, they start a conversation by asking me “What are your rates?” or “How do your rates compare to those of your competitors?” While you should definitely know what the terms of the agreement are,
the “rates of return” aren’t nearly as good an indicator of what you should expect to receive from the recycler as you might think. What you should be focused on is how the recycler can substantiate the findings they’re reporting.

First, you need to understand the specifics of the transaction of sending in your metals to be recycled. A crematory owner is in the unenviable position of not knowing exactly what is contained in the scrap drum. This puts the recycler in a position of power. Frankly, the recyclers can report whatever they want, and unfortunately, it’s all too common that some of them do just
that. As an example, if your scrap drum had $10,000 in actual value, but a recycler who lacks transparent practices reported only $3,000, how would you know?

The rates of return in this scenario are meaningless -- they were only used to beat their competition and get your metal.

Here are three measures you can and should take to ensure that you are being treated fairly:

1 You should always work with a recycler who offers you a sample from your melt. During the smelting process when recycling metal, we need to draw a sample of the metal when it’s in a molten state to properly assay it (analyze its composition). Think of getting blood drawn by your doctor to determine your cholesterol level.

When this metal assay is done, a piece can easily be set aside for you, the client. This should be offered to you every time without you asking for it after the reporting. Make sure this is a part of the recycler’s protocol.

2. You should work with a recycler who has an opendoor policy. Because the value of the metals recovered through the recycling process is very high, you really should try to visit your recycling partner at least once. But, given how busy funeral directors and crematory operators are, maybe it’s not realistic for you. However, you should always at least get a couple of comprehensive
references from people who have been able to visit the recycler’s facility. Ask them what they saw: how many furnaces were there? How professional was the staff and how many staff members were there? Did it seem like a well-run operation? A truly useful reference goes into detail and is without any personal biases.

Seeing the process in person is a great experience that you should try to have at least once. But whether or not you can, you should definitely be encouraged by your recycler to visit their facility. This demonstrates how confident they are in their operation.

3. You should demand detailed reporting. As a recycler, we look at the process as multi-faceted. Yes, we will ultimately buy the metal contained, but first things first, we need to analyze and report to our clients what they’ve sent us. This reporting should detail important information like, how much metal was sent in, how much the bar weighed after it was melted, and the assayed
percentage for each metal, to name a few key details. It surprises me how unscientific some recyclers’ approach is when it comes to reporting. In my opinion, the more info the better.

To sum up, in a world where we can instantly compare prices online in the palm of our hand, our expectations for fast and accurate results are higher than ever. But some things require a bit of digging and communication between you and your recycling partner. The advice I want to leave you with is this: (1) Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable, and (2)
don’t settle for less-than-good answers.

Kevin is the head manager of Cremation Recycling, a division of Mid-States Recycling (MSR), where he is in charge of client acquisition and retention. In addition to client support, he focuses a great deal on educating the crematory profession by speaking and writing informative pieces. Before working with Cremation Recycling he was a customer of MSR for nearly 15 years. He was born and raised in Chicago, where he lives in the suburbs now in Naperville with his two daughters, Molly and Katie. Although he ventured off to Florida and Hawaii for school and life experience, Chicago has always managed to pull him back.

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