The aim of this study was the valorization of titanium flakes (waste) from titanium and titanium alloy ingot production factories and using in applications related to metals recovery as retention bed for some trace metals. The titanium flakes were anodized for surface nanostructuration with TiO2 nanotubes and then annealed in order to increase the surface stability. The nanostructured titanium flakes were loaded and pressed in a retention column linked with inductively coupled plasma spectrometer (ICP-OES). This system allowed determination of trace elements such as beryllium, lanthanum, lutetium, and ytterbium from sample solutions. Beryllium recovery percentage was over 90%, while lanthanides have just a satisfactory recovery percentage (about 65% Yb and Lu and 50% La). The TiO2 nanotube architecture was not affected during utilization being able to perform for a long time. A thermodynamic and kinetic study was done for beryllium due to its successful adsorption recovery percentage. The obtained results showed that the titanium waste is a promising material for rare earth and relatively rare earth elements retention and recovery. Graphical abstract Graphical abstract.