About Plasterboard Recycling

A background to the industry and why it is important to recycle plasterboard and gypsum waste

Plasterboard is a widely used building material which demonstrates many advantageous properties including low flammability, high acoustic performance, high strength and relatively low cost.

Plasterboard is made using a plaster core surrounded by a paper liner. Traditionally the plaster used in the core was derived from mined and processed natural gypsum.

Every year around 270 million M² of plasterboard product is produced. A WRAP 2006 report identified around 1 million tonnes of plasterboard waste is created annually. Out of this waste it is estimated around 300,000 tonnes is sent for reprocessing, that means only 30% is plasterboard is being recycled 

As of April 2010 plasterboard and other high sulphate bearing wastes are no longer allowed in general landfill (previously a 10% allowance for such materials had been in place). Presently the only 2 options for plasterboard waste are to recycle or dispose at a mono-cell landfill site (a landfill which only accepts high sulphate waste). In many cases the costs for monocell disposal are higher than recycling costs where landfill tax alone accounts for a large proportion.

In 2010 a Quality Protocol developed by WRAP and other key industry members came into force. This protocol was developed to aid an increase in the tonnages of plasterboard recycled by removing some of the legislative burden. The protocol achieved this by allowing recycled gypsum to be classed as a product rather than a waste under the strict proviso that the material is processed in accordance with PAS109 (the industry standard for recycled gypsum).

Ultimately the best way to reduce the impact of plasterboard waste is to create less waste in the first place. Manufacturers are taking steps to help this by improving packaging and offering boards in custom sizes to reduce the need to cut them to size, thus adding to the waste. Some manufacturers offer take back schemes whereby a bulk bag can be filled with plasterboard waste and the vehicle delivering the new plasterboard will collect the bags of plasterboard waste for re-processing.

Roy Hatfield Ltd offers similar schemes where material can be collected from sites using bulk bags, skips, bins etc. Landfill disposal for plasterboard waste is extremely expensive when compared to recycling routes, the high cost involved, when combined with the environmental implications makes reducing the amount of waste produced or recycling the waste produced the logical solution.

Roy Hatfield Ltd can accept plasterboard waste for a fee. The plasterboard is processed, separating the plaster core from the paper liner leaving clean paper and clean plaster. Traditionally the routes for gypsum recycled from plasterboard waste include use in plasterboard manufacture, cement manufacture and agriculture amongst other smaller niche outlets.

The main issue for many recyclers is the problem of contamination in loads. Items such as metal, bricks, glass and plastic can often be found in supposedly ‘plasterboard only’ loads. This can slow down and even prevent the recycling process for such material. By taking extra steps to keep loads clean waste producers can assist recycling and help reduce their own costs. This applies especially to material produced from the demolition sector. We do routinely recycle demolition sourced material, however more than in other areas it is very important for the waste producer to take extra steps to ensure no contamination is present.

Roy Hatfield Ltd has been recycling wastes from industry for over 40 years. In the last 10 years the company has created a number of solutions allowing the re-processing of over 30’000 tonnes of gypsum waste every year.

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