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Honda to recycle rare earths metals from junked cars

Honda is looking to its past for a greener and more economically feasible effort to mine rare earths metals.

Honda says that it won't let rare earths metals found in certain parts in junked cars go to waste. The Japanese automaker says that it is planning the world's first mass production process designed to extract rare earths metals from car parts that would have otherwise been discarded.

In part, Honda's decision to repurpose rare earths metals comes from its desire to reduce its dependency on China, which controls the bulk of the world's rare earths metals supply. Rare earths are used in various car parts, most notably in batteries and motors for hybrid and electric vehicles. In addition, recycling rare earths from car parts lessens the need for new metals to be strip mined.

Honda is partnering with Japan Metals and Chemicals Company. Together, the two will begin working globally to extract rare earths from nickel-metal hydride batteries used in older hybrid vehicles. Honda is initially relying on its dealer network, but it could eventually look to salvage yards.

The Japanese automaker credits a newly-developed process with allowing it to repurpose over 80 percent of the rare earths used in nickel-metal hydride batteries, according to a report from Reuters.