Stakeholders from the European gypsum industry, including the UK’s three major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers, have joined forces in a collaborative project to achieve higher recycling rates for plasterboard waste by effectively closing the loop from production to recycling. The Project reports that the average amount of gypsum-based waste in Europe, from production, construction and demolition sources, is estimated at 2,350,000 t/year.

Led by Eurogypsum, the Gypsum to Gypsum (GtoG) Project has identified the plasterboard demolition waste market as the major obstacle to creating a circular economy for the gypsum industry. Most buildings are demolished rather than dismantled in the majority of European member states, resulting in unsegregated waste going to landfill with no opportunity to recover recyclable materials such as plasterboard waste. The GtoG Project’s ultimate objectives include establishing a European Handbook of best practices for controlled deconstruction of gypsum systems, a European specification for recycled gypsum, and a recycling target for gypsum waste.

UK member-manufacturers of the Gypsum Products Development Association (GPDA), British Gypsum, Knauf and Siniat, are among the 16 GtoG Project partners. Manufacturers involved in GtoG have been set an objective to include 30% recycled content in their plasterboard by the end of the Project in December 2015. GPDA Secretary, Crispin Dunn-Meynell, says the association’s members are also taking a proactive approach to tackling waste throughout the supply chain by advising customers on good waste practice and efficient design.

“Already 40% of new construction waste in the UK is recycled back into new plasterboard,” commented Crispen. “We do, however, recognise that there is more to do, particularly in terms of Europe’s demolition sector, which is seen as a potentially weak link in the gypsum-based waste recycling chain. In fact, the theme for the GPDA’s next Sustainability Lecture on 24th September 2014 will be Design for Deconstruction.”

As part of their market research, GtoG Project partners have been analysing deconstruction and gypsum recycling practices, alongside EU and local regulations, in eight EU countries, namely Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK. Their findings indicate that member states are not in step when it comes to recycling gypsum-based waste and there is a lack of harmonisation between EU regulations and local interests and practices. In addition, the project found that deconstruction, rather than demolishing, is widespread in only three of the eight countries (Belgium/The Netherlands, France and the UK).

Going forward, GtoG is planning pilot projects in Belgium, the UK, Germany, and France with a view to establishing an efficient and economical approach to deconstruction and plasterboard waste management. The Project will also be following up the capability of plasterboard manufacturers, Europe-wide, to incorporate recycled gypsum into their production process and monitoring the quality of finished products with a high recycled content.

For more information about the GtoG Project please go to gypsumtogypsym.org