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Gypsum Wallboard Waste

Waste gypsum wallboard is typically either disposed directly in solid waste facilities, or processed with other C&D wastes where it breaks up and ends up in the residuals. C&D residuals are commonly used as alternative daily cover (ADC) at landfills. Residuals containing gypsum wallboard fines combined with conditions inside a landfill can create hydrogen sulfide gas. All of the NEWMOA states have experienced public health and/or nuisance problems with hydrogen sulfide gas at landfills that use C&D residuals. Diverting gypsum wallboard waste for recycling markets would provide two significant benefits: reducing a public health problem from hydrogen sulfide gas at landfills and increasing the sustainability of C&D materials management.

In FY 2009, NEWMOA initiated a Project to develop a regional approach to increasing the reduction, reuse, and recycling of gypsum wallboard waste. Through the Project, the C&D Materials Workgroup assessed the viability of numerous policy, regulatory, and other program options that could increase recycling of gypsum wallboard wastes. The Workgroup engaged stakeholders and held a series of discussions to evaluate the options and focused on those that are the most practical and feasible and could result in significant improvements in gypsum waste recycling. NEWMOA’s C&D Materials Workgroup recommended the following five policy options for implementation or further study:

  • Ban the disposal of gypsum wallboard waste in landfills
  • Require recycling of wallboard wastes produced by state-financed projects
  • Require waste management planning
  • Develop common terminology and reporting requirements
  • Develop and implement extended producer responsibility approaches

The Project culminated in the publication of Policy Options White Paper – Promoting Greater Recycling of Gypsum Wallboard from Construction and Demolition (C&D) Projects in the Northeast [PDF], September 2010.

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Jennifer Griffith