This paper presents the results of Co(II) and Ni(II) extraction from model and real solutions using bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)phosphinic acid (i.e. Cyanex 272) that are in agreement with waste-to-resources approach, i.e. the recovery of valuable components from wastes. The results from this study shows that, extraction using Cyanex 272 is an efficient method to recover Co(II) selectively from sulfate electrolytes obtained from the leaching of steel scraps of aircraft engines. The highest selectivity value (∼160) of Co(II) extraction over Ni(II) was obtained at a pH of 4.8, the lowest selectivity value (∼30) was observed at a pH of 5.5, while above this value the selectivity only increased slightly with increasing pH. A pH of 5.2 was selected as a compromise between Co(II) selectivity and Ni(II) amount in the organic phase. The essence of the investigation is to propose important parameters to extract Co(II) from real leach solutions, and to further recover valuable Co(II) from the loaded organic phase by stripping with 1 M H2SO4, thus producing an electrolyte of Co(II) for electrowinning - a possible alternative route for resource recovery. Small volume of the stripping phase (w/o = 1:5) used in this study, lead to an enrichment of sulfate electrolyte in Co(II), resulting in ∼50 g/dm3 of Co(II) in the solution, which is a great advantage of the approach proposed. Such a solution is a valuable source for the electrowinning of metallic cobalt, which can be used for the production of steel alloys, Li-ion batteries or catalysts. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.