Abstract Industrial waste is a good resource from the viewpoint of efficient waste management. The vital need for energy utilization and environmental protection mean it is of interest to develop circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) to burn solid wastes with low pollutant emissions. The paper presents some explanatory studies on waste-to-energy in a pilot scale CFCB facility. A series of combustion/incineration tests have been carried out for the industrial wastes: petroleum coke, waste tire and sludge cakes with various moisture contents. It seems that the CFBC has feed flexibility without modifying heat transfer equipments for energy recovery. In addition, the results of experimental tests demonstrate that gas emissions from waste incineration in CFBC can be well controlled under local regulation limits. At normal operation temperature in CFBC (approx. 800°C), the heat transfer coefficient between bulk bed and bed wall is on the order of 10 2 W/m 2° C, which is useful to estimate the energy recovery of waste combustion by CFBC. A practical and simple guide is proposed to estimate the energy recovery from waste combustion by CFBC, and to find maximum allowable moisture content of waste if there is to be any energy recovery without auxiliary fuel.