In this study, the effect of the recirculation of spent liquor from hydrothermal carbonization was investigated depending on the biomass type (grape pomace, orange pomace and poultry litter). The yield and fuel properties of hydrochars and spent liquor characteristics were determined for each recirculation step. By recirculation, mass and energy yields of the hydrochar increased, but their combustion characteristics changed: the ignition temperature and combustion reactivity decreased. The organic and inorganic load of liquor was increased with recirculation number, but not as much as would be expected after the first recycle. It was concluded that the load of organic and inorganic species in spent liquor decreased the leaching of some inorganics and diffusion of the degraded soluble fragments from biomass in the subsequent hydrothermal carbonization. Overall, this study showed that spent liquor recirculation makes the overall hydrothermal carbonization process environmentally friendly. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.