“Sending one skip of waste plasterboard to landfill will cost you about £2000. You can save £500 on each skip by using a manufacturer’s plasterboard waste collection scheme or a gypsum recycling centre”.

Rules on landfilling

As of April 2006 plasterboard and other high sulphate bearing wastes are no longer permitted in general landfill (previously a 10% allowance for such materials had been in place) and can only be landfilled at a mono-cell at a landfill site (a separate cell which only accepts high sulphate waste). This year the Environment Agency has announced it will be auditing sites and enforcing fines if illegal disposal of plasterboard waste has taken place.

Options for disposal of waste

Presently the only two options for disposing of plasterboard waste are to recycle / recover or to dispose in a mono-cell landfill site (landfill which only accepts high sulphate waste). Due to the rising cost of landfill, in many cases the costs associated with recycling plasterboard are much lower than those associated with monocell disposal and this disparity will only increase as landfill costs continue to rise.

Quality Protocol

A Quality Protocol developed by WRAP and other key industry members operates to increase 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).

Reduce Waste

The preference is always to reduce the impact of plasterboard waste is to create less waste in the first place. Industry is taking steps to help by improving packaging, offering boards in custom sizes thereby negating the need to cut them to size which in turn reduces the amount of off-cut waste, and details that generate less waste.

Options for recycling plasterboard waste

  • Manufacturers schemes - the 3 UK manufactures - British Gypsum, Knauf and Siniat – have waste takeback schemes whereby bulk bags can be filled with plasterboard waste and the vehicle delivering new plasterboard will collect the bags of plasterboard waste for re-processing into new plasterboard.
  • Independent plasterboard recyclers - many local recyclers also offer similar schemes where material can be collected from sites using bulk bags, skips and bins. There are also independent plasterboard recyclers who can accept plasterboard waste for a fee.

Environmentally acceptable uses for recycled plasterboard

Traditionally the routes for gypsum recycled from plasterboard waste include use in plasterboard manufacture, cement manufacture and land improvement in agriculture. Work is going on to find other uses for plasterboard waste.

‘Clean’ waste

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 plasterboard. By taking extra steps to keep loads clean, waste producers can assist with the recycling process, thereby reducing their own costs. Such precautions should be applied in both the construction and demolition sectors. Demolition sourced plasterboard can be recycled, however, more than in other sectors, it is paramount that waste producers take extra steps to ensure no contamination is present.

Recycling Downloads

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Voluntary Agreements on Waste and Recycling

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Plasterboard Sustainability Action Plan

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Click on this link to download the Plasterboard Sustainability Action Plan in PDF format