Recycling rare earth elements from high-tech devices typically involves a toxic process that’s banned in many countries, including the United States. Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed a new environmentally friendly process known as RE-Metal that enables the recovery of rare earth metals from waste electronics and other sources.
RE-Metal helps solve an enormous challenge for U.S. manufacturers: enabling the environmentally friendly recycling of a limited supply of essential rare earth elements that are required for most of today’s high-tech devices. Currently, these manufacturers rely almost entirely on foreign nations for rare earth elements, jeopardizing the U.S. economy and its national security. Further, RE-Metal replaces a toxic process that’s banned in North America with one that requires less energy, produces few if any toxins, is sustainable and is more profitable. Additionally, bringing rare earth element recycling to the United States could create many jobs as the tech industry continues to require these valuable metals.