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Gypsum Recovery Reuse for Construction
13 August 2019

John Herbert, hong kong energy saving expert, BEAM expert
John Herbert

Gypsum board more commonly known as plasterboard or drywall is a very common construction product, it is used practically in every project, yet tonnes of this valuable mineral are needlessly dumped into landfill every year, and that is a problem.

Landfill disposal is not an easy option, it can be problematic, due to the release of toxic compounds, some jurisdictions in North America have already banned gypsum/plasterboard from landfill sites.

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Above: Waste gypsum destined for Hong Kong landfill

Instead, gypsum can be recovered, and used to make new plasterboard.

Gypsum is indefinitely recyclable

The process for recycling and re-use is hardly difficult, if the material can be effectively separated from general construction waste, it can be recycled, processed and mixed to form the raw material used to make new plasterboard, or use for other new products.

It is environmentally effective to recover used gypsum locally than to pay for excavating, mining, and shipping virgin ore.

interiors gypsum, drywall, sheetrock, plasterboard

Above: Gypsum Recycling credit:

Used plasterboard can also be re-purposed and used as fertilizer, ask a farmer, actually it is used as soil conditioner, providing soluble form of calcium and sulphur for improving the condition of the soil.

Gypsum is also a by-product of boiler flue gas cleaning process, in Europe, a drywall company set up its factory close to the power station to use the by-product as its raw material. Gypsum sourced from flue gas cleaning is clean, and doesn't risk the typical "contamination" nails, paint, etc. that result from typical demolition projects.


If the buyer (contractor) is free to purchase any type of plasterboard in the market, with few exceptions cost is the primary metric, particularly when other metrics such as environmental benefits, and recycling content are less than clear.

To clarify for the consumer the benefits of using recycled materials, in the absence of regulations, creating a cost difference between virgin and recycled gypsum board is the fastest path to adoption.

When the HKSAR Government introduced a small charge to buy a supermarket plastic shopping bag the entire sector changed within weeks, smart shoppers opted to bring a shopping bag, and the use of single plastic shopping bags dropped dramatically indicating that consumers are very cost sensitive, so it is a powerful tool for promoting more sustainable practices.

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✅ Want to discuss circularity call John Herbert 📞 +852 2335 9830 today!

About the Author

John Herbert is a veteran chief engineer with more than 30 years international engineering experience, educated in the United Kingdom, he has worked in the United Kingdom and then across Asia for more than two decades engaged by international and local companies. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), a BEAM Professional, and stationed in Hong Kong.


tags: gypsum waste, plasterboard waste, drywall waste, construction waste, consultant, reuse, Hong Kong, sustainable

date: 15-04-21

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