Several organic wastes of major production in the world (municipal solid wastes, wastewater sludge, manures and bulking agents) and some already treated organic wastes have been investigated to determine the partition among the several fractions that compose them and their kinetics of biodegradation. Different literature models have been explored for their suitability to predict the behaviour in respiration studies of these wastes. All the models presented limitations related to their simplicity or their excessive complexity, which makes them unsuitable for reliable and fast studies at real scale. A new model based on the rapid, the slowly and the inert organic fractions has been tested for all the wastes, showing excellent correlations with actual respiration activity. Finally, the kinetic parameters for this model in its application to all the wastes studied are presented. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.