Honda unveils world’s first rare earth recycling process

April 18, 2012

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. today jointly announced the establishment of the world's first process to extract rare earth metals from various used parts in Honda products

Honda said in a statement that it will pursue the recycling of precious resources by utilizing the newly established process for the recycling of rare earth metals as an actual mass-production process at a recycling plant, not an experimental process.  

As part of this effort, before the end of this month, Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals will begin extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from Honda hybrid vehicles at Honda dealers inside and outside of Japan. Since entering the automotive market in 1999, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has sold a total 800,000 hybrids worldwide. 

Most of the world's users of rare earths depend and source their rare earths requirements from China, which in turn supplies about 95 per cent of global rare earth supplies.

But due to environmental concerns, China has heightened export controls, ultimately driving prices of rare earths to skyrocket proportions.

Because of this, Japanese automakers and other heavy rare earths users have been exploring approaches to lessen rare earth usage dependency or replace the metals, aided by government subsidies.