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by David Zalstein

Honda will begin a mass recycling process to extract rare earth metals from a number of its used parts and products this month.

Honda has teamed up with the Japan Metals and Chemicals Company for the recycling project that will see rare earth metals extracted from nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from used hybrid vehicles – including the Honda Insight and CRZ – obtained through its network of dealers around the world.

Honda says extracting the rare earth metals as part of a mass recycling process is a world first.

The stabilisation of the extraction process at the Japan Metals and Chemicals Company plant has made a project of this size possible with the result being the extraction of more than 80 per cent of the rare earth metals found in used nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Due to the materials extracted being on par, in purity, with newly mined and refined metals, Honda will be able to reuse the extracted metals for new nickel-metal hydride batteries as well as a range of other Honda products.

This is of significant financial benefit as, according to Reuters, China produces about 95 per cent of the world’s rare earth supplies and has increased export controls, leading to price rises.

Honda plans to expand its recycling of rare earth metals in the future to include other used parts.

Honda is not new to the concept of recycling with the manufacturer claiming to be the first Japanese automaker to sell recycled parts and collect and recycle oil filters and replaced bumpers.