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Recovery covers all actions aimed at isolating and recovering the so-called “secondary” raw materials, or energy, from waste, referred to as material recovery or energy recovery.

Prior to any recovery, a recuperation operation enables the sorting and preparation of waste with a view to recovery.

This waste sorting at source is a necessity as recovery processes seldom accommodate product combinations. Furthermore, material mixtures can result in hazardous reactions.

Waste sorting and pre-treatment operations can be carried out within the company before dispatch to specialised collective treatment units, within the plant or company, in a specific unit in charge of collecting and recovering certain types of waste, or as raw materials in an external company.

These operations generally require buffer storage of waste within the company.

All these operations may require, in the case of hazardous or polluting waste, a prefectural permit. 2Material recovery2 Biological treatment consists in giving agricultural value to organic waste.

Recycling consists in re-introducing waste into a production cycle as total or partial replacement of a virgin raw material, in the same process as the original product or in a different cycle for a similar production (for example, recycled paper as opposed to paper).

Regeneration is a physical or chemical process consisting in restoring the initial status of waste and most of its initial properties, with a view to using it to replace a virgin raw material. This technique mostly concerns special waste such as solvents, paints, acids and oils. It uses complex chemical processes such as distillation, extraction, filtration or absorption. The entire sector is regulated: collection, transport and collection centres as well as regeneration units are required to hold a permit under the legislation on classified installations for environmental protection.

Reuse is the use of waste for a similar purpose to the initial one, like for example the reuse of glass bottles after washing.

Reutilisation consists in recovering waste for a purpose other than its initial one. Thus, used tyres reutilised as ship’s rail protection.

The returnable deposit system is an economic tool promoting the operation of reuse or reutilisation sectors. Certain returnable deposit systems have been implemented.

Numerous categories of materials can be recycled or recovered in acceptable economic conditions, in light of equivalent waste disposal costs.

2Energy recovery2 Waste incineration in major facilities makes it possible to recover heat emissions in the form of steam by circulating flue gases through the boiler tubes.

The steam produced can:

  • supply a district or corporate heating network,
  • be used in a manufacturing, sterilisation process etc.
  • produce electricity via turbo-alternators. As heating requirements are seasonal by nature, an energy recovery technique producing both heat and electricity has emerged: co-generation.

All waste incinerators, including those internal to the company, require a prefectural permit order under the legislation on classified installations for environmental protection, following a public enquiry. Certain types of industrial waste (oil, grease) can be incinerated with heat recovery in authorised and adapted combustion installations, provided this waste can be treated as commercial fuel.

For household and similar waste pre-treatment processes before incineration are developing: thermolysis or pyrolysis, generating a waste-derived fuel (coal) which can be stored and recovered in smaller units.

Certain types of special industrial waste can be co-incinerated to replace other sources of energy. These are mostly certain cement furnaces equipped with dust extractors and gas emissions treatment. This disposal process is subject to restrictive prefectural permits for the operation of the furnace as well as the types of waste and amounts permissible.


European Parliament and Council Directive 2006/12/CE of 5 April 2006 on waste.

Decree 2005-635 of 30 May 2005 on the monitoring of waste treatment channels.

Decree 2002-540 of 18 April 2002 on waste classification.