A research team led by Kanazawa University used chelator chemistry to recycle rare earths (REs) from spent fluorescent lamps. These technologically crucial but expensive elements were extracted using EDTA, an aminopolycarboxylate, from lamp phosphors. Combined with planetary ball-milling of the RE-containing phosphors, the optimized process recovered REs with efficiencies up to 84 percent (for yttrium and europium). This shows that REs, which are increasingly hard to mine, can be recycled cleanly under mild conditions.