Waste streams – clarification


The focus of the criteria is on recyclable materials only. Any facilities / spaces for managing recyclable materials must be in addition to spaces / facilities for managing general waste.


“Waste streams are flows of specific waste, from its source through to recovery, recycling or disposal. Waste streams can be divided into two broad types:

  • Streams made of materials (such as metals or plastics).
  • Streams made of certain products (such as electronic waste or end-of-life vehicles).”


For BREEAM, a waste stream is a material / product with its own recycling process. This means each stream needs to be separated from other materials before it can be effectively processed into new materials / products. This separation can happen in the asset, or (in the case of co-mingled waste) after collection from the asset.

Residential waste streams

In most cases, this is defined by how it will be how be sorted and collected by municipal waste authorities. Where no local guidance exists, the list below may be used as a guide.

Recyclable waste streams (answer option C in BREEAM USA In-Use Residential V6):

  • Paper and cardboard.
  • Glass.
  • Plastics.
  • Metals.
  • Wood and wood-based products.
  • Oils.
  • Batteries.
  • Electrical and electronic equipment.

Compostable / recyclable waste streams (answer option D in BREEAM USA In-Use Residential V6):

  • Food waste.
  • Garden waste.

Commercial waste streams

Commercial assets will generate specialised waste streams specific to the asset’s function. These are typically:

  • Generated consistently, and in large volumes.
  • Are specifically separated for recycling.

In these cases, waste streams such as metals, plastics and paper / cardboard may be sub-divided into specialised waste streams where they meet the above.

Example scenarios

A vehicle repair workshop generates the following waste streams:

  • Metals.
  • Paper / cardboard.
  • Plastics.
  • Engine oils.
  • General waste.

The engine oils and general waste cannot be re-processed into other usable materials. Only 3 recyclable waste streams can be considered for BREEAM assessment.

The local authority collects co-mingled waste for the asset. This waste mixes together:

  • Metals.
  • Paper and cardboard.
  • Plastics.

This co-mingled waste can be counted as 3 waste streams.

A supermarket consistently generates large quantities of cardboard packaging. This cardboard forms a significant portion of recycable waste generation. It is baled up and collected separately by a specialised waste contractor.

In this case, cardboard waste can be considered a separate waste stream from paper.

18-Jan-2024 - Clarified list of residential waste streams (separated compostable waste streams and added relevant answer options).