Honda Begins World-First Process of Recycling Rare Earths image

Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals Company have established world-first process of extracting rare earth metals from used parts in Honda vehicles.

Rare earths are used for a variety of “green” products such as electric and hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, as well as consumer and industrial electronics (iPads and television screens). Currently China is the one that controls the rare earths market, producing about 95% of the elements in the world. The fact that China lowered export quotas made rare earths users seek other solutions for supply. Since the middle of 2010 the price for these elements has been soaring.

Last month Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals have begun extracting rare earth elements from used nickel-metal hydride batteries, collected from Honda hybrid vehicles. The operation of extracting rare earths as a mass-production process at a recycling plant is the first in the entire world. Through this process more than 80% of the metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries are extracted, which will be used for the production of new batteries and other Honda products.

“This is in line with the company’s long-established commitment to the so-called 3R approach: reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Honda.