Abstract Waste segregation is being explored as one of the potential effective ways for waste management, where wastes are separated for either recycling or energy recovery. In this paper, three segregated wastes, contaminated waste wood, cardboard and waste textile are pyrolysed in a slow-heating packed-bed reactor for the purpose of solid, liquid and gas recovery. The effect of final temperature was investigated and product yields and compositions were measured. Mathematical modelling was employed to simulate the heat, mass transfer and kinetic processes inside the reactor. Both a parallel reaction model and a function group model were used to predict the product yields as well as their compositions. Char yield of 21–34%, tar 34–46% and gas 23–43% were obtained. It is found that packed-bed pyrolysis produces 30–100% more char compared to standard TGA tests and the local heating rate across the packed-bed reactor differs remarkably from the programmed wall-heating rate and varies greatly in both time and space. Mathematical modelling suggests that wood has higher tar cracking ability than cardboard and textile wastes during pyrolysis, and the effects of mineral contents in the fuel need to be explored. CO 2, CO, tar and water are the main released species during the major stage of the pyrolysis processes which occurs between 250 and 450 °C, whereas noticeable quantity of hydrogen and light hydrocarbons is observed only at higher temperature levels and at the final stage.