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Why Is Plaster-Board Considered Hazardous Waste?

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Plasterboard is a common building material that typically doesn't pose a threat, however, due to chemicals involved in the manufacturing process, it can pose a massive hazard to people handling and sorting the waste, as well as the skip itself.

Why can't you put plasterboards in a skip?

During the manufacturing process, plasterboard is made up of a layer of gypsum sandwiched between two thin layers of lining paper, by itself, this chemical is stable and safe, even in combination with the others in the plasterboard. However, it becomes a huge risk when combined with waste and wet conditions, as it can react with other materials in the skip and combust. This is a huge hazard for not only the customer but also the skip collectors and waste sorters too as this can happen at any point during the waste disposal's journal.

What are the legal ramifications of putting plasterboard in a skip?

In 2009, the environment agency allowed 10% of construction waste to be plasterboard in order for a practical solution against plasterboard disposal. However, this didn't work as they found out that even a small amount of gypsum can cause problems when mixed with waste. Since then the law states you need to dispose of plasterboard separately from the rest of your waste in your skip, failure to do so could result in a fine issued by the skip company or the skip not being collected altogether.

What dangers does plasterboard pose?

Not only does gypsum release toxic gases (H2S) that smell like rotten eggs when mixed with waste, but it can also be extremely corrosive to metal skips and flesh, causing harm to workers and property damage to skips. They can also make the waste in the skip more prone to fire and in extreme cases explosions, which puts the people who ultimately sort the waste at landfills in more danger.

How to properly dispose of plasterboard?

The proper way to dispose of plasterboard is to recycle the material into DIY projects to prevent it from going to a landfill. However, we recognise this isn't always possible so most skip hire companies (ourselves included) accept the plasterboard when it has been placed into an appropriate bag, which protects it against the waste and weather, and placed in the skip, or if it has been disposed of off separately to the mixed waste such as another skip. The most common method is to place the plasterboard into a heavy-duty black bag and place that into the skip, ensuring there are no rips or tears in the bag before placing it in the skip.

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