R4 - Recover

What is Resource Recovery?

Resource recovery means recovering valuable resources from the waste stream. It is concerned with the material in people's rubbish bins after they have done the right thing through reducing, re-using, recycling and composting yard or food waste. This 'leftover' rubbish is called residual waste.

Until now we have called this material rubbish, but if we think about these materials as resources, there are many ways that it can be used to our benefit.

Resource recovery includes a number of different systems and technologies that use mechanical, biological and/or heat methods to convert some of our residual waste into new products such as compost or energy.

Resource recovery also includes integrated facilities designed to receive, store process, repair and dismantle society's discarded materials with the goal of selling them either for re-use in industry or directly back to the public. These facilities are refered to as Resource Recovery Parks.

Resource recovery represents a range of activities characterised by the treatment and recovery of materials and/or energy from waste through thermal, chemical and/or biological means. The Hazelmere Resource Recovery Park is an example of how untreated waste wood (such as pallets, packaging and crates, off-cuts and cable reels) into woodchip fines and woodchip. Current development is also underway for a Wood Waste to Energy Plant.

Resource recovery aims to:

  • reduce the amount of waste put into landfill (by up to 90%)
  • utilise rubbish:
    • remove glass bottles, metal cans and plastics for recycling
    • convert waste into useful products like compost and/or energy
    • reprocess, repair or dismantle waste for re-use

With resource recovery, the 3Rs of reducing, re-using and recycling are important 'up front' or primary processes because we do these things first. In this way, resource recovery is the 4th 'R' - recovering resources that are left over after the first 3Rs - reduce, re-use and recycle. 

Useful link

Waste Authority