Japan's Environment Ministry is developing a plan to recycle more rare earth metals from electronic scrap.
The proposal specifically targets approximately 45 device categories for rare earth metal recovery, including cell phones, game consoles, cameras and other portable electronics. In an effort to improve recycling rates for affected items, the plan strongly recommends consumers not be charged fees for returning electronics for recycling. Instead, the program would largely be financed from the value of recovered metals. If all cell phones that reach their end of life in Japan were recycled, for example, the value of their recovered rare earth elements would be approximately $125 million per year.
The proposal is expected to be presented to Japan's legislature early next year, following the conclusion of a study period.
Rare earth metals – a group of 17 elements essential to the manufacture of many electronic components – are a source of growing concern for many electronics manufacturers. China currently controls over 90 percent of the world's rare earth metal production and recently announced they would be decreasing their export quotas to boost their domestic manufacturing sector.
Source: Resource Recycling