Gypsum Recycling

denmark_gypsum_resizedGypsum Recycling has developed and patented a treatment plant which can recycle plaster with wallpaper, glue, paint, fiberglass, screws, etc. The system removes impurities and carton around the gypsum core and then crushes the cast down to a 100% recycled gypsum powder. Until 2001, most of the 50,000 tons of gypsum waste was deposited at landfills, but the Gypsum Recycling treatment has in a few years led to an 80% reuse of plaster in Denmark - or 40,000 tons annually. Plasterboard is a widely used material in modern construction, but gypsum waste can pose a significant environmental problem.

The recycling system from Gypsum Recycling International assures that gypsum and plasterboard waste become 100% recyclable. The reprocessed gypsum powder which makes up app. 94% of the waste is sent back to the plasterboard manufacturer, so that they can make new plasterboards with it. The paper with related contaminants which makes up 6% of the waste can be reused in various ways, as the technology of Gypsum Recycling International assures that very little gypsum is left on the paper residual. The paper residual is among others used for composting, heat generation, building materials etc. Hereby the gypsum/plasterboard waste is recycled 100%. Nothing goes to the landfill.

Plasterboard/drywall is the principal wall material used in the US and Europe, except for some of the southern countries. It is made of a sheet of gypsum covered on both sides with a paper linen. In total 80 million tons of plasterboard/drywall is produced every year. Europe, US and Japan accounts for 85% of this. As most of it is still sent to landfill, this means that app. 15 mio tons of waste is being landfilled yearly, or more than 40.000 tons of waste every day. For this reason several US states are considering fully or partially banning disposal of plasterboard waste in landfills, whereas the EU have decided to avoid the risk of hydrogen sulfide gasses by regulating that plasterboard waste no longer can be disposed of in simple inert landfills, and must be disposed of in controlled landfills in cells where no organic waste is present.

It is a complete system with all the necessary elements for efficiently taking the waste from the place of generation to the processing facility, where the waste very economically is transformed into a valuable raw material that cost efficiently is delivered to the plasterboard plant nearby. The system encompasses: a collection system/containers, a logistics system, the mobile recycling unit and endusers that can benefit from the recycled material. The recycling unit is designed to be mobile and very compact. Hereby multiple small processing plants/facilities located close to where the waste is generated can be serviced using the same recycling unit.

Barriers and Drivers

Both in the EU and the US restrictions has been implemented on landfilling of plaster, which requires different solutions for its handling. This has benefitted the development of Gypsum Recycling and is a key driver for its expansion outside Denmark.

Economic Performance 

Gypsum has developed a model where the company makes money across the value chain, both to collect gypsum waste and to sell gypsum powder. The combination of patented environmental technology and a value-added business concept has improved the sales of Gypsum Recycling, and in recent years the company has expanded its operations so Gypsum Recycling International is active in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Holland and USA.

Environmental Impact

In the US and in Europe plasterboard waste disposed of in landfills have allegedly created the dangerous Hydrogen Sulfide Gas (H2S). Hydrogen Sulfide gas is a dangeours gas that in high concentrations is lethal and in low concentration gives a rotten egg smell. The plasterboard waste in it self is not dangeours, but when the plasterboard waste is mixed with organic waste, and exposed to rain in an anerobic environment, tests have shown that hydrogen sulfide gasses can develop.  For the same reason, the EU and also the Danish Environmental Protection Agency established requirement for gypsum waste not to be disposed with other waste containing organic or biodegradable material.

Further Information

For more information please visit the website of Gypsum Recycling International:

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