Colt Technology Services announces pioneering bioleaching trial
Partners with N2S to evaluate innovative e-waste solution that uses microbiological techniques and living organisms to extract precious metals
London, UK, 11 November, 2021 – Colt Technology Services today announced it has been partnering with IT life-cycle services specialist N2S on a pioneering bioleaching trial for the past six months.
N2S is the first company in the UK to extract precious metals using bioleaching. Their technique was developed in partnership with Coventry University.
The innovative process is an environmentally considerate way to extract precious metals, including gold and copper, from electronic waste, using microbiological techniques and living organisms. The extracted precious metals can be reused, rather than being wasted in landfill, in turn, reducing pressure on mining for virgin materials. Bioleaching also produces no air pollution, unlike other extraction methods, such as smelting and incineration, which result in significant greenhouse gas emissions.
With bioleaching, the waste undergoes an enhanced recycling process to identify any components made from precious and rare earth metals suitable for recovery. An in-depth analysis then takes place, with the materials being ball-milled to reduce them to powder. Non-metallic elements can then be removed, and an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES) is used to identify the quantity of elements.
Caroline Griffin Pain, Colt’s General Counsel and EVP, HR, said: “Sustainability is a central element of our strategy, and we are continually looking at the latest green technologies, in order to reduce our impact on the environment and offer customers the ability to partner with a sustainable business. Within this, circular economy is key; when we replace a piece of old equipment within our business, we look at how we can keep it out of landfill and ideally within the value chain, to produce less waste overall. As a result, we’re investigating the viability of using bioleaching to recover precious metals from our own equipment, in partnership with N2S, and will be evaluating the results as we near the end of the trial.”
Steve Morris, N2S Managing Director said, “It’s been really exciting to work with Colt to redefine the technology lifecycle. We are running this trial to help them understand what is contained in their end-of-life network and data centre equipment and see how it can be managed more sustainably.
“Using our unique biotechnology process, we can extract large amounts of rare earth and precious metals such as gold and copper – sometimes up to 40% of a technology circuit board is made of copper. These metals can then be re-introduced into the manufacturing process to create a circular economy, helping Colt to meet its sustanability goals.”
Recognised as a Visionary in the Gartner 2021 Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Colt also received Frost & Sullivan’s 2021 European Customer Value Leadership Award. The company’s recent industry-leading Net Promotor Scores (NPS) reflect Colt employees’ high motivation and the Financial Times’ Diversity Leaders list rated Colt first in the telco industry.
N2S Ltd is a family company founded in 2002. For over two decades, it has been spearheading solutions that deal with end-of-life technology equipment, offering fully transparent, end-to-end sustainable and environmental corporate IT recycling solutions. Core services extend to recoveries including office clearance and de-installations, data erasure and destruction (certified to Government security level) plus reuse and resale, recycling, and refining using biotechnology, all supported by comprehensive reporting on all aspects of its services.
N2S currently recycles some 250,000 IT devices per year. Advocating a zero-to-landfill policy, every part of the equipment is recovered, recycled, reformed or restored for re-use. Through innovative solutions such as its ground-breaking revolutionary biotechnology process, enabling the recovery of critical raw materials, N2S is redefining the face of technology recycling.
Currently employing around 100 people, N2S is on a rapid expansion programme, increasing capacity at its Bury St Edmunds head office and opening two new sites in Thames Valley and the Midlands in 2021 which will see staff numbers double in 2022.