A massive characterization in terms of respiration activity for the most common types of organic solid wastes is presented in this compilation. Respiration activity for a solid waste is a crucial parameter to understand the behaviour of the waste in the environment and for waste management aspects such as the definition of a suitable biological treatment and the determination of the potential rate of microbial self-heating if organic wastes are to be used as solid recovered fuels. The respiration data compiled in this work are the result of five years of research focused on the determination of the biological activity of organic wastes. A compilation of respiration data found in the literature is also presented. The main groups of organic wastes analyzed are: municipal solid wastes (including mixed wastes and source-selected organic fraction), wastewater sludge (including digested and nondigested sludge from primary and secondary operations in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants), different types of manure (of different origin), other particular wastes (animal by-products, hair waste, fats, etc.) and some mixtures of different wastes. Results suggest that respiration activity can be used to classify the biodegradability of organic wastes into three main categories: i) highly biodegradable wastes (respiration activity higher than 5 mg O2 g Organic Matter−1 h−1), which includes source-selected organic fraction of municipal solid waste, nondigested municipal wastewater sludge and animal by-products; ii) moderately biodegradable wastes (respiration activity within 2 to 5 mg O2 g Organic Matter−1 h−1), including mixed municipal solid waste, digested municipal wastewater sludge and several types of manure; iii) wastes of low biodegradability (respiration activity lower than 2 mg O2 g Organic Matter−1 h−1), which includes few organic wastes such as some particular wastes from the food industry. © 2011 by The JG Press, Inc. All rights reserved.