The need to apply innovative technologies for maximizing the efficiency and minimizing the carbon footprint of sewage treatment plants has upgraded sewage sludge management to a highly sophisticated research and development sector. Sewage sludge cannot be regarded solely as ‘waste’; it is a renewable resource for energy and material recovery. From this perspective, legislation on sewage sludge management tends to incorporate issues related to environmental protection, public health, climate change impacts and socio-economic benefits. This paper reviews the existing legislative frameworks and policies on sewage sludge management in various countries, highlighting the common ground as well as the different priorities in all cases studied. More specifically, the key features of legislation regarding sludge management in developed countries such as the USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union (EU27) are discussed.