Jack Gomarsall, founder and managing director of n2s, an IT professional services firm based in Bury St Edmunds, has received a national award for his lifelong commitment to responsible and ethical metal recycling.

The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) presented Jack with the Service to British Metals Recycling Award on Wednesday, October 12.

“I am delighted to present the Service to British Metals Recycling Award to Jack,” said BMRA president Susie Burrage. “Not only for his achievements in telecoms recycling, but for his 10-year tenure on the BMRA board.

“From 2007 to 2017, Jack took time out from growing his business to attend meetings in Brampton and London for the betterment of the whole industry. He was an active member of the BMRA board when I first joined it in March 2014 and welcomed me warmly. I particularly loved hearing recollections of his early days in the industry – he didn’t have an easy ride!”

Jack has devoted his 56-year career to recovering and sustainably recycling metals from IT and telecoms equipment.

Leaving school without formal qualifications, he joined BICC Group in 1966, working in the scrap metal yard dismantling telecom cables to recover the copper inside. Over the next 12 years, he worked his way up to hold various sales and management positions at BICC and also operated as a metals currency trader.

In 1978, Jack struck out on his own, continuing to retrieve and recycle copper from telecom cables while expanding services to include the recovery of metals from BT exchange equipment.

He founded n2s in 2002 to help tackle the UK’s rapidly growing volumes of e-waste, focusing on extending the useful lifetime of telephony, mobile, workplace, data centre and networking equipment – and ensuring its responsible and ethical disposal when beyond repair.

In 2018, Jack was inspired to investigate how metals contained on printed circuit boards (PCBs) could be recovered more sustainably – using bacteria as an alternative to the traditional approaches of exporting PCBs thousands of miles to the Far East for incineration.

This discovery subsequently led to BT commencing a trial of the ‘bioleaching’ process to recover copper and gold from decommissioned exchange equipment.

Through sister company Bioscope Technologies, n2s is now scaling up its bioleaching capacity and creating numerous job opportunities at its new Cambridge laboratory.

Commenting on the award, Jack said: “I am extremely proud to have received this award from the BMRA, an organisation which I hold in high regard and one that is at the heart of a long-established yet dynamic and rapidly growing industry.

“The industry recycled 11.5 million tonnes of steel in the past year, along with many thousand tonnes of copper and all non-ferrous metals.” he added. “The scrap merchant image portrayed by TV’s Steptoe and Son is long gone – largely thanks to the efforts of the BMRA and its members.”

Jack’s son Andrew Gomarsall MBE, executive chairman of n2s, added: “We are all delighted by the BMRA’s recognition of my father’s tireless contribution to metals recycling and the green economy as a whole.

“His bioleaching discovery will bring significant environmental benefits by saving potentially millions of tonnes of carbon. It also helps ensure metals in finite supply remain within UK borders, rather than losing them overseas through the traditional practice of exporting.

“From a social perspective, it will avoid millions of PCBs going to landfill or being incinerated, safeguarding the health of communities nearby.”

There was further reason to celebrate for n2s on October 12, as it won the Changing the World category alongside Coventry University at the Innovate UK KTP Awards – in recognition of their bioleaching knowledge transfer partnership.

For more information, visit www.n2s.co.uk