Embracing the Circular Economy: Lessons from BASF and Heraeus’s Joint Venture in Autocatalytic Recovery


The recent collaboration between BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions (ECMS) and Heraeus Precious Metals in Pinghu, China, marks a substantial step forward in advancing precious metal recovery and sustainability. At ElectraMet, we keep a close eye on such pioneering initiatives as they align with our mission of advancing autocatalytic recovery processes for a more sustainable future.

Circular Economy and Supply Security:

The BASF HERAEUS Metal Resource Co., Ltd (BHMR) is a testament to the growing importance of a circular economy. With substantial financial investment, technology advancements, and constructing a state-of-the-art facility, BHMR aims to recover precious metals from spent automotive catalysts. This initiative not only supports improving sustainability initiatives, but also ensures a more robust supply chain that will be beneficial to the global markets.

Technology and Efficiency:

BHMR will utilize ECMS’s best-in-class pyro-metallurgical technology providing flexibility to process high carbon containing materials, like silicon carbide found in spent automotive catalyst materials. This provides a strong competitive advantage for companies that use this technology as precious metals in China regularly require import due to limited domestic supplies. Metal recycling reduces carbon emissions and shipping costs typically associated with international sourcing of precious metals. ElectraMet, similarly, leverages cutting-edge technology to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of metal recovery processes. Our approach ensures high metal purity levels – essential for industries like semiconductor manufacturing and EV battery recycling – in a locally sourced package.

Impact on Carbon Footprint:

Recycling precious metals can substantially reduce carbon emissions, a critical aspect in today’s environmentally-conscious market. A single ton of mined palladium can emit over 77,000 tons of CO2. For example, The Pharma and Fine Chemicals industries use around 50 tons of precious metals (Pt and Pd), and only roughly 200 tons of these metals are produced annually. Combining demand with environmental impact, traditional solutions are unsustainable for the future. BHMR’s recycling efforts resonate with ElectraMet’s commitment to minimizing environmental impact and promoting low carbon footprint solutions. Recycling metals from industrial waste and consumer products is one of the most impactful acts that can be done towards these regards.

Global Trends and Local Impact:

The joint venture highlights how global partnerships can have significant local benefits. Given the nature of where metals and precious metals are located naturally and within specific industries, global partnerships will play a key role in developing a robust and decarbonized recycling supply chain. We work with partners across the globe to deliver best in class solutions that meet the needs of the local industries, regulators, and environment.


The collaboration between BASF ECMS and Heraeus in China is more than an industrial achievement; it’s a blueprint for future sustainability in precious metal recovery. At ElectraMet, we are inspired by such innovations and are committed to incorporating these lessons into our metal recovery processes, driving forward a sustainable, efficient, and secure future.

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