In order to maximize the environmental benefits of fusion power generation, it is important to clearly define the parameters governing the back-end of the materials cycle. A fusion-specific approach is necessary and needs to be developed. Recycling of materials and clearance (i.e. declassification to non-radioactive material) are the two recommended options for reducing the amount of fusion waste, while the disposal as low-level waste could be an alternative route for specific materials and components. Both recycling and clearance criteria have been recently revised by national and international institutions. These revisions and their consequences for fusion material management are examined in this paper.

It is also important to define the various processes and routes to avoid generating active waste from fusion as much as possible. Two ways are explored within the fusion community: first, the development of materials leading to low activation levels, avoiding the generation of long lived radionuclides through a strict control of the impurity content in materials; second, the development of suitable and reliable processes allowing either clearance of as much material as possible (potentially after adequate treatment) or recycling most of the remaining materials within the nuclear industry.