In an auto-industry first, Honda Motor Co. has declared it will begin recycling rare earths from old hybrid batteries in an effort to expand its green reputation. The company already extracted rare earths from nickel-metal hybrid batteries in April of this year. It plans to use the harvested materials in new batteries and other autoparts by the end of the year.
By recycling rare earths from old hybrid batteries, Honda could sizeably reduce its reliance on the import of rare earths from China.
Rare earths mining has become a hot topic recently with China recently asserting its control over the global rare earths market. Although China has about 30% of all rare earths deposits, it accounts for a whopping 90% of all production. China continues to insist on stringent curbs on its export of rare earths â€“ a move that some argue unfairly inflates the price of rare earth minerals outside of China.
But despite global tension over Chinaâ€™s export policy, Honda claims it is motivated by a desire to help the environment and reduce its carbon footprint. After all, it was the first company to self-report its CO2 emissions during customer use of its products. It has also been known to transform old car bumpers into raw material for use in its production processes. And the Honda Fit EVÂ recently achieved the highest ever EPA fuel efficiency rating.
It would seem Hondaâ€™s desire to recycle rare earths is merely an extension of its established green company policies.
What are your thoughts on Hondaâ€™s move to recycle rare earths from depleted batteries? Is Honda motivated out of a concern for the environment or are they merely trying to alleviate their reliance on rare earths from China?
Image CC licensed by Jeff Finley: Honda Hybrid