‘Closed-loop recycling’ is a key contributor to achieving higher recycling rates of gypsum wastes according to the Final Report of the Gypsum to Gypsum (GtoG) project, a three-year study initiated by the European gypsum industry.

The Gypsum to Gypsum (GtoG) project report identifies best practices for deconstruction, recycling and reincorporation in the manufacturing process of recycled gypsum to create the ‘perfect’ loop. It also sets out a roadmap for future implementation of a sustainable value chain, which it says will require intense collaboration between demolishers, constructors, recyclers, and manufacturers.

Co-financed by the European Commission LIFE Programme and led by Eurogypsum, the GtoG project focused on the way gypsum-based wastes are treated in eight EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK); estimating that around 1,150,000 tons of plasterboard waste was generated in 2012.

The Final Report recommends that the development and support of plasterboard value chains should be set up at country level, alongside a continuous exchange of best practices around Europe. Revealing a lack of enforcement of the EU’s Waste Framework Directive (WFD) in some member states, the Report also called for a commitment to harmonise national legislation with the WFD. In addition, it looked to the EU to assure full and proper implementation of the Directive, together with greater focus on the design of plasterboard systems for deconstruction and recycled content to increase recyclability and promote a mentality of waste prevention.

The Report also made recommendations for the gypsum industry, identifying the need for intense collaboration between constructors, demolishers, waste collectors, recyclers and manufacturers in order to achieve a ‘closed-loop’ system. Suggestions include setting up a collaborative platform between stakeholders around Europe to exchange best practices, with specific reference to dismantling plasterboard systems and reincorporation processes.

Plasterboard manufacturers made a major contribution to the GtoG Project, including conducting five pilot trials in four countries and pushing the recyclate incorporation rate up towards 30%. Among those taking part in the project were Knauf, British Gypsum (through Saint-Gobain) and Siniat.

Crispin Dunn-Meynell, secretary of the Gypsum Products Development Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s plasterboard manufacturers, said: “Gypsum products can be counted amongst the very few construction materials where ‘closed-loop’ recycling is possible, that is where the waste is used to make the same product again and again. Our member-manufacturers have played a proactive role in the GtoG Project and will continue to work with stakeholders from the European gypsum industry to implement the Project’s recommendations for achieving the ultimate goal of a circular economy for the construction sector.”

CLICK HERE to download the full set of GtoG Reports