WRAP looks to lift the gypsum curse

Old plasterboard is to be given a new lease of life as a leading recycling organisation explores opportunities for the all-to-common cast off of the building industry.

Huge quantities of material from demolition and construction are dumped into the UK’s landfills every year and plasterboard makes up a significant chunk of that mountain of rubble.

Now, with funding from Defra and devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has started work on stimulating the market for the gypsum-based waste.

The aim of WRAP’s three-year Plasterboard Programme is to support the separation, collection and reprocessing of used board together with a wide range of market development mechanisms.

During the first year, it will focus on the development of both existing and new recycling processes as well as expanding the range of commercially viable end uses.

In the next few weeks, a tender competition for R&D projects, operational trials and demonstration projects will be launched to explore the opportunities for recycled gypsum.

The mineral is extensively used as a fertiliser as well as in plaster and WRAP is hoping to identify a number of different applications in construction and agriculture, as well as examining opportunities for more efficient collection and segregation.

It has also begun setting up a plasterboard forum to improve communication between all those involved in the industry.

“We have to understand the needs and concerns of the supply chain, and the establishment of an effective stakeholder forum has been a priority for WRAP,” said the programme’s director of materials Liz Goodwin.

“Consultation will be essential to the delivery of sustainable recycling solutions for gypsum waste in future.”

By Sam Bond

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