Solvay is officially opening two rare earth recycling units in France to recover rare earths contained in end-of-life equipment such as low-energy light bulbs, batteries, or magnets.
First launched in 2007, this project required two years of research and development followed by two years of industrialization studies and site selection. They first focus on low-energy light bulbs – which are rich in lanthanum, cerium, terbium, yttrium, europium and gadolinium – because here recovery channels already exist.
Used light bulbs are collected, sorted and processed by specialized companies who recycle their different components glass, metals, plastics, mercury. The luminescent powders are shipped to the Group’s facilities in Saint-Fons, Rhône-Alpes, France. Here the rare earth concentrate is extracted. At the La Rochelle, Charente Maritime, France, plant the rare earths are separated. Then they are reformulated into luminescent precursors that will be reused in the manufacture of new lamps. Solvay says it is now in a position to recycle while preserving 100 % of the functional properties.
Global demand for rare earths is growing at more than 6% per year, making these elements a strategic raw material.
- Solvay, Belgium
- Video: Solvay launches its rare earth recycling activity in France