How to Recycle Drywall
Did you know that gypsum drywall is 100% recyclable? Gypsum Recycling International, one of the largest processors of recycled gypsum in the world, estimates that 40,000 tons of drywall are sent to landfills each day. That’s equivalent to sending 40,000 cars to the dump each day!
In addition to keeping waste out of landfills and providing a cheaper form of gypsum, recycling drywall reduces the environmental impacts of mining more gypsum. When drywall waste is landfilled in wet climates, the decomposing gypsum can produce hydrogen sulfide gas.
Incineration of drywall can also produce the gas, which is toxic in high concentrations and has a noxious, rotten egg odor. Some areas no longer allow drywall waste in landfills for these reasons, which makes recycling drywall even more important.
New drywall is an obvious product that can be made from recycled drywall, but pulverized gypsum is also used as a soil amendment. Mostly used by commercial agricultural operations, gypsum is a good source of calcium and sulfur, and it helps loosen clay soils. Additionally, it’s used for mushroom compost and as an additive for concrete. It’s cheaper for farmers to purchase recycled gypsum than virgin materials that have to be mined and then refined, and recycled gypsum is equal in quality to virgin gypsum. Even the paper backing from drywall can be recycled; the shredded paper is used for animal bedding or added to compost.
If you’d like more information, check out drywallrecycling.org. It’s a website created by the Construction Materials Recycling Association and the EPA that offers readable and useable information for commercial and private consumers, and has a good list of resources and helpful links.
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Photo Credit: Riverview Homes Inc.