Honda announces recycling program for used hybrid batteries

Honda is launching a recycling program to aid in the production of hybrid vehicles.

Honda has announced the industry's first recycling program for rare earth metals typically used in the batteries of hybrid vehicles. Honda is launching the program in response to rising prices.

Despite the advancement of lithium-ion batteries, most hybrid vehicles still rely on nickel-metal hydride batteries for electric propulsion. Although cheaper than lithium-ion units, the cost of nickel-metal hydride technology has been on the rise over the last few years, thanks largely to China's stranglehold on the world's supply of rare earth metals. China, which controls 95 percent of the world's rare earth resources, has recently increased export controls on rare earth metals, resulting in higher prices for the world's automakers.

In order to combat those rising costs, Honda has partnered with Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. to extract rare earth metals from used hybrids. Honda will use its global dealer network to collect the used hybrids, according to Reuters.

The Japanese automaker says it recycling process can extract more than 80 percent of rare earth metals from the batteries of hybrid vehicles. Those rare earth metals will then be reused to make new hybrid vehicles.

Honda will begin the recycling program this month.