Use of an electric field-assisted biosorption system to remove and recover toxic or precious entities from solution is described. The biosorbent materials are housed in a membrane-enclosed space together with an electrode and a counter electrode is placed in the external solution containing the relevant sorbate. The system is shown to be capable of removing toxic entities such as Cd, Cs, Cu and Cr from solution and additionally is shown to be capable of recovering precious species such as Ag and Pt from relatively dilute solutions. In addition, the potential diversity of application of the system is demonstrated by the efficient sequestration of hazardous organic entities such as glyphosate and phthalate from dilute solutions. (c) 2006 Society of Chemical Industry.