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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

How to dispose of plasterboard...recycling or landfill?

Updated: Feb 7


rubbish collector

Understanding how to dispose of plasterboard is important for many reasons. Firstly, there are rules in place to prevent incorrect disposal of plasterboard waste. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, there are the environmental risks associated with not following the rules. 


There’s no denying that plasterboard (aka drywall) is an important building material in the construction process and is super handy for DIYers (DIY waste is the aspect we are interested in with this post), but users have an obligation to protect the environment from toxic gases like hydrogen sulphide that are released if the waste boards are allowed to deteriorate in a wet landfill.

How is plasterboard made?


Plasterboard (also known as gypsum board) is comprised of sheets of mined gypsum rock that has been crushed up into a fine powder (the process of calcination) and then heated to remove water. The resulting material is calcium sulfate hemihydrate which is combined with water and additives (the exact additives will depend on the type of plasterboard being created as there are several). The resulting gypsum core is sandwiched between layers of paper or wood pulp before being dried and cut into the sheets we see in the DIY or hardware store. The colours of the outer sheet of the plasterboard differ depending on its characteristics. 


Plasterboard additives

Below are the common additives - Source greenspec.co.uk


• Starch - protects the physical bond between gypsum crystals and facing paper during drying.

• Lignosulphates - Improves the slurry flow so less water is required, resulting in denser plaster.

• Potassium sulphate - Causes the gypsum to precipitate out more quickly due to a common ion effect.

• Foaming agent (detergent) - Forms a foam in the mix, resulting in a less dense plaster.

• Silicone - plasterboard is inherently vulnerable to moisture; silicone is added for use in damp conditions

• Wax - also added to provide resistance to moisture

• Vermiculite - added to specifically designated fire-resistant boarding

• Glass fibre - also added to provide increased fire protection.


Why proper disposal of plasterboard matters


As we saw, the main constituent element of plasterboard is gypsum which if left to degrade in landfills or garden waste, can react with organic matter and produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which has a foul odor and can be harmful to the environment. As well as the environmental impact, the size and volume of waste plasterboard is prohibitive for placing unwanted plasterboard in the domestic waste. Old plasterboard is recyclable so it shouldn't be thrown away as this is a wasted opportunity. 


In the UK, there are regulations surrounding the improper disposal of waste plasterboard. Therefore, if you don't adhere to these (eg by putting it in your general waste) you'll be liable to pay fines. 


Methods of plasterboard disposal

Recycling

Contact your local waste management authority or household waste recycling centres to inquire about facilities that accept plasterboard for recycling. Some areas have specialized recycling facilities or construction and demolition waste recycling centers equipped to handle plasterboard.

Where we live, they accept small amounts of plasterboard for free and charge above the free disposal limit. This is only for non-professional disposal, businesses with commercial waste need to arrange for removal of plasterboard by waste management companies. Around 25% of the content of new plasterboard can be recycled and almost all of the paper wrapping can. 


Professional waste services

To save the hassle of transporting your waste plasterboard, you can arrange for private waste management companies to collect and dispose of it.  This could be via a dedicated plasterboard waste skip hire service (as you can't place plasterboard in a mixed waste skip) or via a pre-booked collection. Always check they are a licensed waste carrier who provides documentation to evidence the collection and safe disposal, as you could be found liable if the company you employ dumps the water illegally (flytipping). Also, check for any requirements regarding the collection and whether other materials should be separated. Find out if you need to remove any contaminants (screws, wall fixings etc) before the collection. 


Recycling Plasterboard

recycling symbol

Pros:

  1. Environmental benefits

  2. Resource conservation Recycling gypsum from plasterboard reduces the need for virgin gypsum mining, conserving natural resources and reducing energy consumption.

  3. Cost savings Some recycling facilities may accept plasterboard for free or at a lower cost compared to professional collection services, resulting in potential cost savings.

  4. Sustainability Recycling plasterboard aligns with sustainable waste management practices and contributes to a circular economy by promoting material reuse and resource recovery.

Cons:

  1. Time and effort Transporting plasterboard to recycling facilities requires time and effort, including preparing the plasterboard, arranging transportation, and visiting recycling centers.

  2. Accessibility

  3. Space limitations

Professional Collection

waste collection with grab arm

Pros:

  1. Convenient Professional collection services offer convenience by handling all aspects of plasterboard removal, including preparation, transportation, and disposal.

  2. Save time Hiring professionals saves time and effort associated with transporting plasterboard to recycling facilities or waste disposal sites.

  3. Compliance Professional collection services ensure compliance with local regulations and guidelines for plasterboard disposal, reducing the risk of fines or penalties.

  4. Bulk Removal Professional collection services can accommodate large quantities of plasterboard, making them suitable for construction or renovation projects with significant waste volumes.

Cons:

  1. Cost Professional collection services typically incur costs, which may vary depending on factors such as the quantity of plasterboard, distance travelled, and service provider fees.

  2. Environmental Impact Depending on the disposal method used by professional collection services, plasterboard may be sent to landfills, potentially contributing to environmental impact and resource depletion.

  3. Limited Recycling Options Some professional collection services may not offer recycling options for plasterboard, resulting in disposal rather than recycling.

How to dispose of plasterboard at a local council recycling station


  1. Check local regulations Check the website for the location and regulations for your local recycling centre to see if there is a legal requirement for certain processes to be followed. 

  2. Prepare the plasterboard Remove all screws, nails and any removable items

  3. Transportation Secure the plasterboard into your vehicle so it cant move about and break up. 

  4. Call ahead If you are depositing a large amount of plasterboard it's sometimes worth phone ahead to check with the site staff the disposal will be possible before loading your vehicle.  

  5. Separate materials Check the requirements re separating materials if you are also taking other materials to recycle. 

  6. Documentation Keep any documentation or receipts issued by the recycling plant as proof of proper disposal. 

  7. Be prepared for fees Some recycling plants may charge fees for accepting plasterboard or amounts over a certain threshold, especially if it contains contaminants or requires additional processing. 

In summary, the best disposal method will depend on a number of factors such as how much plasterboard there is and your local restrictions. If you are a DIYer disposing of small amounts of plasterboard, then the best option is likely to be taking it to your local tip, where they will likely allow you to dispose of a certain amount of gypsum-based products for free and it will hopefully be recycled.

If you have a large amount of gypsum-based waste from larger DIY projects or larger construction projects that have been completed at your home that would be difficult to transport and will likely incur fees for disposal at your local household waste recycling centre, then arranging for a licensed waste collection or booking a professional (dedicated plasterboard) skip hire service might be easier. 


Links for Kent locals

If you live in Kent like I do, here are the links you need for where and how to dispose of your plasterboard... Take plasterboard to the following household waste recycling centres: Source Kent Country Council Website

It is not accepted at Faversham, Folkestone, Sheerness or Swanley.

Where next?


Here are some related blog posts that you might find useful...


Best plasterboard filler for fixing cracks and holes: A DIY guide

Use this guide to save time and money searching for the best plasterboard filler. This post is all about finding the best plasterboard filler.

Plastering products every DIYer needs

Check these plastering products out for your next DIY Before we jump into the plastering products that I recommend for the job, it's worth clarifying exactly what 'the job' is.

Gaps, cracks or holes in your internal walls? Don't panic; here are my tips for how to repair plasterboard.

Because getting the prep right is so important to skimming walls and ceilings.


DIY tutorial to safely smooth over artex on a budget.


Step by step to skimming walls as a DIY


Find out about pink fire-rated plasterboard here.


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Benefits of plasterboard for DIY Below is a summary of why plasterboard is so popular...Easy Installation Plasterboard is easier to install than traditional plaster walls. It comes in large sheets that can be quickly attached to wall studs or ceilings. Cost-Effective You can pick up plasterboard sheets from the local DIY store for a few pounds.  Versatility It can be used for interior walls, ceilings, and partitions. It is also compatible with various finishes such as paint, wallpaper, or textured coatings (on the subject of textured coatings, these days we spend more time trying to smooth over them rather than apply them! One of my most popular posts is how to smooth over a textured ceiling). Fire Resistance Although standard plasterboard has an element of fire-resistance due to its gypsum composition, it isn’t fire rated. You can bu fire rated plasterboard that provides an excellent level of protection in case of fire. Sound Insulation Standard plasterboard provides an element of sound insulation but isn’t as effective as specific soundproof plasterboard which is designed to be an excellent sound barrier.  Smooth Surface Once installed, plasterboard provides a smooth and even surface, ideal for applying finishes or decorations. Repairability Minor damages to plasterboard can be easily repaired by patching or replacing damaged sections, reducing maintenance costs over time. Considering the above list, it's easy to see why so much is used by DIYers but this doesn't explain why there are rules dictating how to dispose of plasterboard. 



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