Honda Begin Recycling of Rare Earth Metals

27 April 2012

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. have jointly announced the establishment of the world’s first process to extract and recycle rare earth metals from mass various used parts across Honda’s diverse product range, in order to help further protect the environment and the world’s limited natural resources, which are becoming increasingly precious over recent years.

As part of this effort, Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals will begin extracting rare earth metals – a set of seventeen chemical elements - from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from Honda hybrid vehicles at dealers from within Japan, North America and Europe. The new operation will be the first in the world to extract rare earth metals as part of a mass-production process at a recycling plant, rather than via a small-scale extraction process in controlled and experimental conditions, which Honda has already carried using approximately two thousand battery units in order to assess the accuracy of extraction.

Previously, Honda had been applying a heat treatment to used nickel-metal hydride batteries and recycling nickel-containing scrap, for recycling use as a raw material for stainless steel. However, the successful stabilisation of the extraction process at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. made possible the extraction of approximately 80% of rare earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries, with purity as high as that of newly mined and refined metals.

Honda will strive to reuse extracted rare earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also for a wide range of Honda products. Moreover, Honda will also look to further expand the recycling of rare earth metals in the future as the newly established process enables the extraction of rare earth metals from a variety of used parts, in addition to nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Honda has long been committed to the recycling of resources with the 3R approach (reduce, reuse, recycle), that include, but are not limited to, rare earth metals. For instance, Honda was the first Japanese automaker to begin sales of recycled parts and to collect/recycle oil filters and replaced bumpers. This project is just part of Honda’s continued commitment to reducing the impact of its products and manufacturing processes on the environment, as well as ensuring the sustainability of its vehicles