The disposal of plasterboard first became an issue when the Environment Agency produced new landfill guidelines in April 2009 relating to material containing gypsum. The main issue with gypsum based plasterboard is that when mixed with biodegradable waste in landfills, the subsequent decomposition can result in the release of sulphide gas (H2S) which is both putrid and toxic.
There are some sites that accept gypsum plasterboard and the Environment Agency has 17 eligible sites for disposing of plasterboard as of June 2009, however it must be separated from other materials. The tax on landfill is subject to an annual increase and disposing of waste materials as opposed to recycling them is becoming progressively more expensive for all types of waste.
Plasterboard can be difficult to handle particularly when wet and fragile and there are further handling and processing issues if it is contaminated with texture coatings which could contain even minute asbestos fibres. The costs of disposal may have an impact in the event of an insurance claim where the claims handler insists on full precautionary removal of asbestos by specialist contractors, even if there is only a minimal risk of asbestos.
There are a number of recycling companies who will collect and recycle gypsum plasterboard, which is generally at a lower cost than disposal at an approved landfill site. Some plasterboard manufacturers operate a take back scheme for waste/off-cuts of their product.
Further information related to the disposal of plasterboard and other materials can be obtained from the WRAP website
Points to watch out for on survey include:
1. Plasterboard can no longer be mixed with other waste destined for land-fill, but needs to be sorted, and disposed of separately – increasing costs of refurbishment.
2. Rubbish disposal if organised via contractors is becoming very expensive – a factor to take account of when surveying commercial or large domestic sites.
3. Take care if you are responsible for managing rubbish skips: A Surrey businessman has recently been sentenced to 240 hours community service after he failed to comply with an improvement Notice where staff were at risk from objects falling off the skips.
4. Consider, when carrying out an insurance valuation, any extra costs which might arise from disposal of plaster waste, particularly in the presence of asbestos fibre contaminated by specific materials such as texture coatings.
5. Advise clients who are proposing to undertake refurbishment, about waste regulations and waste management and advise them to take advice from the Environment Agency and WRAP websites.
6. Take note of the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010, designed to prosecute offenders who breach environmental laws, with fines intended to put right damage, even by offenders who have an otherwise good compliance record.
7. Warn clients about the hazards inherent in untidy, poorly-controlled sites
What is Landfill Tax?
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Domestic waste, separated domestic factors and asbestos
Waste gypsum and plasterboard can be recycled and reused
Gypsum and plasterboard waste
Plasterboard Waste Regulation
Plasterboard – Find out everything you need to know about plasterboard recycling
Plasterboard – about the material
Uses of recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard
Ashdown Agreement annual report
Hulls R.H., 2011, WASTE MATERIAL Particularly Plasterboard Surveyors advice to clients, available,http://www.surveytec.co.uk/articles/Waste%20-%20Plasterboard%20%202011-02.pdf, assessed on 23/5/11