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Increased Recycling of Gypsum Wallboard Waste Promoted in the Northeast

Release Date: 10/08/2010
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 8, 2010) – With assistance from an EPA grant, the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) published a “white paper” to increase the amount of gypsum wallboard waste that is recycled in the Northeast.
The recently published “Policy Options White Paper Promoting Greater Recycling of Gypsum Wallboard from Construction and Demolition (C&D) Projects in the Northeast” was prepared by NEWMOA. This is the culmination of input from eight northeast States, NEWMOA and EPA over the past two years.
The study supports the discussion among the eight Northeast State Environmental Agencies on key strategies that could be implemented within a state or across the region to advance gypsum wallboard recycling. NEWMOA’s Board of Directors is in the process of identifying next steps for the Association to pursue. In 2008, NEWMOA received a $25,000 EPA Resource Conservation Challenge Grant to increase wallboard recycling in the Northeast.
NEWMOA estimated that 1.2 million tons of waste gypsum wallboard was generated in the Northeast in 2006, of which approximately 720,000 tons was new gypsum wallboard scrap from construction projects, and 480,000 tons was old wallboard removed from demolition and renovation projects.
The main component of wallboard is gypsum, a commodity that can be recycled into new wallboard or used in cement manufacturing, thereby reducing the need for manufacturers to buy virgin gypsum. When waste gypsum wallboard is broken into small pieces and disposed in a landfill or used as landfill cover, the gypsum reacts with water to form hydrogen sulfide gas.
All of the Northeast States have experienced public health and/or nuisance problems with hydrogen sulfide gas at landfills that include gypsum wallboard residuals from construction and demolition debris.Increasing the recovery of gypsum wallboard wastes, and construction and demolition debris in general, for recycling and reuse outside of landfill environment is needed to address these problems and to create a more sustainable gypsum wallboard recycling management system in the region.
The NEWMOA White Paper identified the following strategies that states could adopt for  significantly improvements in gypsum waste recycling in the foreseeable future:
- Ban the disposal of gypsum wallboard waste in landfills;
- Require recycling of gypsum wallboard wastes produced by state-financed projects;
- Require waste management planning by construction industry contractors so that they are better prepared to properly manage and recycle construction and demolition (C&D) waste, including wallboard;
- Develop common terminology and reporting requirements among state environmental agencies to help wallboard and other C&D waste processors and recyclers conduct business more easily in neighboring states and so that environmental agencies and others can obtain an accurate understanding of the quantities and rates of gypsum recycling in the region; and
- Develop and implement extended producer responsibility approaches to engage the manufacturers and other stakeholders in promoting increased recycling of gypsum wallboard waste.
Several Northeast States have already adopted some of the above strategies, for example:

- The Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has proposed a disposal ban on clean gypsum wallboard and is in the process of preparing responses to the comments received during public hearings in June 2010.

- The Massachusetts and Maine state contracting programs require C&D materials recycling in state construction projects and include new construction wallboard scrap specifically. The Massachusetts Department of Capital Asset Management has recently revised their specifications for construction waste management and disposal to include a requirement to divert all clean gypsum wallboard waste generated on projects greater than 20,000 square feet from disposal to recycling and/or reuse outlets. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is working on a memorandum of agreement with Maine’s Bureau of General Services that would result in recycling of waste wallboard from construction projects at state buildings.

- Both Vermont and Maine have laws that require large development projects to obtain a comprehensive permit from the state. In Vermont, projects over 10,000 square feet must undergo a state permit process known as Act 250. In Maine, projects that will affect greater than three acres must be approved by the State. In both Maine and Vermont, part of this process includes development of a waste management plan that strives to minimize construction and demolition debris disposal including gypsum wall board.

- The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection established a Gypsum Wallboard Recycling Stakeholders group to begin to identify challenges and opportunities to increase recycling of wallboard in Connecticut.

More information:
EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge (
Policy White Paper on Gypsum Waste (
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