Scrapped plasterboard no longer counts as waste in Scotland

Rules that determine the legal definition of surplus building materials in Scotland have been tweaked so that plasterboard that ticks the right environmental boxes need no longer be considered waste.

While technical definitions of waste may seem like an inconsequential legal footnote, in the case of plasterboard this could result in huge cash – and environmental – savings.

Construction companies are notoriously wasteful of gypsum plasterboard, with more ending up in a skip than actually being used.

In Scotland alone up to 1,750,000 tonnes of the stuff ends up as waste every year.

If landfilled, gypsum rots when it mixes with organic waste and releases a toxic – and smelly – gas called hydrogen sulphide.

When properly separated, however, it can be reused either to replace virgin gypsum in new plasterboard or in cement or soil conditioners.

SEPA, Scotland’s environmental watchdog, now says that plasterboard that meets a certain standard, as laid out by the BSI PAS109:2008, it won’t count as waste, cutting down on costs and paperwork when it comes to reprocessing it.

Kenny Boag, SEPA’s head of waste policy, said: “SEPA supports the responsible processing of waste materials into high quality products as part of achieving a Zero waste society.

“SEPA’s policies on the disposal and recovery of gypsum from plasterboard will reduce pollution from landfilling and will also facilitate the recycling of this valuable resource.”

Sam Bond

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