Recycling construction materials

Recycling plasterboard and gypsum from construction projects


Gypsum is manufactured into:

  • plasterboard
  • plaster
  • other specialist boards - eg fire protection

Common sources of plasterboard waste

Plasterboard wastage of 10 to 35 per cent can be generated on site during installation. The main causes are:

  • off-cuts
  • damaged stock
  • poor design
  • poor storage and handling
  • over ordering and disposal of unused materials
  • off-site cutting

Recycling options for plasterboard

The options for recycling waste plasterboard produced on your construction site include:

  • returning off-cuts to the manufacturer for recycling through take-back schemes
  • sending waste to independent plasterboard recyclers to make into new plasterboard and cement
  • sending waste to household waste recycling centres
  • using gypsum as a soil conditioner
  • using gypsum to make bathroom furniture mouldings

However, there are some limitations on recycling plasterboard including:

  • old plasterboard removed in demolition and refurbishment projects can be contaminated with other materials and is harder to separate
  • specialist types of plasterboard, such as foil backed, cannot be recycled using current technology
  • plasterboard made from composite materials is difficult to separate - eg insulation bonded

Making changes to your site operations

You can make simple yet effective changes to your site's operations to reduce plasterboard waste and allow more to be recycled by:

  • separating insulation waste to avoid damage
  • improving transport procedures to reduce damage to materials
  • providing staff with training in the handling of materials
  • recovering materials and not sending them to landfill

Potential end uses for recovered plasterboard and gypsum

You can use recovered plasterboard in a number of construction applications and materials including:

  • new plasterboard products via suppliers' take-back schemes
  • Fermacell (dry-lining board for walls, ceilings and floors)
  • unfired clay-gypsum blocks
  • mushroom compost
  • slope stabilisation
  • road foundation construction
  • bathroom furniture mouldings

See dry-lining contract work - how to cut waste and costs.

You can find licensed waste sites to recycle or dispose of plasterboard and gypsum.