Resource Recovery: Myths Vs. Facts

Resource Recovery: An In Depth Guide

Table of Contents



Resource recovery is a process that involves extracting valuable resources from waste materials. It is often misunderstood and surrounded by various myths. In this article, we will explore some common myths associated with resource recovery and present the facts.

Myth #1: Resource recovery is the same as recycling

  • Recycling: Recycling focuses on reusing waste materials to create new products or materials.
  • Resource recovery: Resource recovery goes beyond recycling and involves the extraction of valuable resources from waste, such as energy or usable chemicals.
  • Fact: While recycling is an important part of resource recovery, the concept of resource recovery encompasses a broader range of processes and technologies.
  • Fact: Resource recovery aims to maximize the value of waste and minimize the environmental impact.
  • Fact: It involves methods like composting, anaerobic digestion, and incineration with energy recovery.

Myth #2: Resource recovery is not economically viable

  • Myth: Resource recovery is believed to be expensive and economically unsustainable.
  • Fact: Resource recovery can actually be a cost-effective solution for waste management.
  • Fact: Many resource recovery technologies, such as waste-to-energy plants, can generate revenue by selling recovered energy or by-products.
  • Fact: The economic viability of resource recovery relies on efficient processes and well-established markets for recovered resources.
  • Fact: Governments and private enterprises are increasingly investing in resource recovery due to its potential economic benefits.

Myth #3: Resource recovery causes pollution

  • Myth: Resource recovery processes, particularly incineration, are believed to release harmful pollutants into the environment.
  • Fact: Modern resource recovery facilities are designed with advanced emission control technologies, preventing or minimizing pollution.
  • Fact: Stringent regulatory frameworks and monitoring systems are in place to ensure compliance with environmental standards.
  • Fact: Resource recovery technologies can help reduce the overall environmental impact of waste management by diverting waste from landfills and generating cleaner energy.
  • Fact: Continuous research and innovation are further enhancing the environmental performance of resource recovery processes.

Myth #4: Resource recovery competes with recycling

  • Myth: Resource recovery is often considered as a rival to recycling efforts.
  • Fact: Resource recovery and recycling can complement each other in a sustainable waste management system.
  • Fact: Recycling focuses on materials recovery, while resource recovery targets the extraction of energy or valuable resources from waste.
  • Fact: Integrated waste management strategies can incorporate both recycling and resource recovery, maximizing the use of waste materials.
  • Fact: Recycling remains a crucial element in reducing the demand for raw materials, while resource recovery offers opportunities for generating clean energy and recovering valuable resources.

Myth #5: Resource recovery is only for certain types of waste

  • Myth: Resource recovery is perceived to be suitable for specific waste streams only, such as organic waste or certain industrial by-products.
  • Fact: Resource recovery can be applied to a wide range of waste streams, including municipal solid waste, construction and demolition waste, and even electronic waste.
  • Fact: Innovative technologies are emerging to recover resources from diverse waste materials, contributing to a circular economy.
  • Fact: Each waste stream requires tailored resource recovery solutions to optimize the extraction of resources and minimize waste generation.
  • Fact: Resource recovery can be adaptable and scalable, offering potential benefits across various sectors.

Myth #6: Resource recovery produces low-quality products

  • Myth: The products derived from resource recovery processes are often assumed to be of low quality compared to those produced from raw materials.
  • Fact: Resource recovery technologies have advanced significantly, allowing the production of high-quality products and materials.
  • Fact: Through proper processing and treatment, recovered resources can meet stringent quality standards and be used in various industries.
  • Fact: Quality control measures are implemented throughout the resource recovery process to ensure the end products are safe and marketable.
  • Fact: Many industrial sectors are recognizing the value of using recycled or recovered materials, driving demand for high-quality products from resource recovery.

Myth #7: Resource recovery is a new concept

  • Myth: Resource recovery is often seen as a recent development in waste management.
  • Fact: The concept of resource recovery has been practiced for decades, with historical examples such as composting and biogas production.
  • Fact: Industrial sectors have long utilized resource recovery to leverage the value of waste by-products.
  • Fact: Technological advancements and growing environmental concerns have propelled resource recovery to the forefront of sustainable waste management strategies.
  • Fact: Today, resource recovery continues to evolve, incorporating innovative technologies and approaches to meet the demands of a changing world.

Myth #8: Resource recovery is inefficient

  • Myth: Resource recovery processes are perceived to be inefficient and energy-intensive.
  • Fact: Resource recovery technologies have significantly improved efficiency over the years.
  • Fact: Modern resource recovery facilities are designed to maximize energy and resource extraction while minimizing energy consumption and waste production.
  • Fact: Advanced technologies, such as anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis, have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of resource recovery processes.
  • Fact: Continuous research and development are driving further improvements in resource recovery efficiency and sustainability.

Myth #9: Resource recovery is not practical for small-scale operations

  • Myth: Resource recovery is believed to be suitable only for large-scale operations and not practical for small communities or businesses.
  • Fact: Resource recovery technologies can be designed and implemented at different scales to accommodate varying waste volumes and resource demands.
  • Fact: Modular and decentralized resource recovery systems are emerging, offering practical solutions for small-scale operations.
  • Fact: Small communities and businesses can benefit from resource recovery by reducing waste disposal costs, generating energy, and recovering valuable resources locally.
  • Fact: Collaborative efforts and partnerships can further enhance the viability of resource recovery in small-scale settings.


Resource recovery, as a key component of sustainable waste management, is often surrounded by misconceptions. By debunking these myths, it becomes clear that resource recovery is a valuable and economically viable approach with significant environmental benefits. It offers opportunities for extracting resources, generating clean energy, reducing waste volumes, and moving towards a circular economy.


  • American Biogas Council:
  • National Waste & Recycling Association:
  • Energy Recovery Council:
  • Waste Management World:
  • International Solid Waste Association:

Resource Recovery: An In Depth Guide