onda was the first Japanese automaker to begin sales of recycled parts and to collect and recycle oil filters and replaced bumpers. Now the company together with Japan Metals & Chemicals will begin extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries before the end of April. The batteries will be collected from Honda hybrid vehicles at Honda dealers inside and outside of Japan. This 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.
Honda has already been applying a heat treatment to used nickel-metal hydride batteries, as well as recycling nickel-containing scrap as a raw material of stainless steel. However, the successful stabilisation of the extraction process at the Japan Metals & Chemicals plant has made it possible to extract rare earth metals with a purity as high as that of newly mined and refined metals in a mass-production process which enables the extraction of more than 80 percent of rare earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Honda is planning to use the extracted rare earth metals for nickel-metal hydride batteries, as well as for a wide range of Honda products. The new process will also allow Honda to expand the recycling of rare earth metals beyond nickel-metal hydride batteries. This is in line with the company’s long-established commitment to the so-called 3R approach: reduce, reuse and recycle.