If your company is involved in construction, construction pickup, demolition, or general contracting in the Jacksonville area, you probably already know what a pain it is to deal with drywall removal. It’s heavy, messy, and crumbles easily. How to dispose of drywall is a common problem in the construction industry.
The gypsum-based material, also known as wallboard, plasterboard, or Sheetrock (a brand name), is the white, paper-backed material that makes up a majority of walls and ceilings found in homes and businesses. It’s a naturally occurring substance that’s fire-resistant and consists of water and sulfate that originates in dried-up, ancient seabeds that have left sulfate behind.
Drywall is popular because it’s generally affordable and easy to install, but there are some drawbacks. One of the main problems Construction and Demolition (C&D) companies face is what to do with it once it’s being replaced, because it’s heavy, fragile, and may be hazardous. We’ll discuss the hazardous materials that may be present in drywall later, but that’s not the only reason why it should never go into a landfill. Let’s take a closer look at some of the many reasons to recycle used drywall instead.
Removing drywall is only half the challenge
In the United States, some 15 million tons of drywall is produced annually according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Unfortunately, only a small percentage of that is recycled, mostly because C&D companies don’t know where to take it. It’s also important to consider the hazards present in the material, which is a prime reason to understand how to dispose of drywall in the safest way possible.
Why Recycle Drywall?
Because gypsum is a naturally fire-resistant material, it’s the perfect fit in constructing new homes. Although the most common use for gypsum is drywall, it has many other valuable uses including water retention in certain types of sandy soil, softening up clay soil, neutralizing acidic soil pH, in fertilizer and compost manufacturing for plant nutrients like sulfur and calcium, and it’s used by cement manufacturers to prevent premature setting.
There are many reasons why drywall shouldn’t be dumped at the landfill and why it’s important to know how to dispose of drywall. One reason, according to the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) is that when it gets wet, sulfates can leach into groundwater, and if consumed this could lead to diarrhea and other health problems. It can also emit hydrogen sulfite gas which is toxic at high levels.
Additionally, when incinerated, drywall may create poisonous sulfur dioxide gas. All these reasons and more make it clear that recycling to turn used gypsum into new products is by far the best option when deciding how to dispose of drywall.
Another hazard that may be present in drywall is lead. Because most all drywall is covered with paint, even when used on the ceilings, it could contain lead-based paint as well as mercury. Any structure built before 1978 runs this risk, but an inexpensive test kit can tell you whether your drywall has any lead present. It’s important to understand these hazards when deciding how to dispose of drywall. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s always best to call in a professional or contact the appropriate state or local agency.
And then there’s asbestos
If you ever watch television and find your commercial breaks inundated with asbestos class-action lawyers, you know that it’s a major, ongoing problem around the world. When asbestos is released as tiny particles into the air, such as during demolition, even trace amounts when inhaled can lead to lung cancer and other major ailments. While joint compound used to seal sheets of drywall is typically made of limestone or gypsum, any structure built before the mid-1970s may have asbestos present in the joint compound. Again, before removing drywall in an older home, be sure to consult a professional or a state agency, and if present, make sure it’s disposed of as hazardous waste by a qualified removal company
How to Dispose of Drywall In Jacksonville
Some important steps for recycling drywall that you won’t have to worry about when bringing it to a transfer yard include removing the nails and screws before processing and dealing with the joint tape and paper backing which otherwise prevents it from being properly recycled. Below are some alternatives to dumping that you may find appealing.
Recycle it at Coastal Recycling Services
Gypsum has many uses, as we touched on above, including making new drywall, so it’s simple to recycle and repurpose. Once the contaminants are removed, gypsum can be ground down into powder or made into pellets and then sold to gypsum manufacturers for use in various applications. It’s also important to note that drywall can’t be recycled through curbside recycling programs, which makes Coastal Recycling Services an attractive option. You’ll feel better knowing all that used drywall isn’t just being dumped, but is going back into a sustainable, circular economy that benefits all of us and the planet we share.
We’re the premier transfer yard in the Jacksonville area. Our facility is perfect for C&D recycling because we get you in and out quickly and our well-maintained, paved road is free of potholes and kept clear of debris that can puncture tires and damage your valuable vehicle(s). Instead of taking a chance on the muddy landfill roads that may present serious hazards, then waiting in a long line to dump your construction debris, bring it to us. You’ll be glad you did.
Save it and reuse it
You also have the option of saving it and reusing it in the future, although this may not be ideal if you’re dealing with a large construction site. One of the easiest ways for C&D companies to reuse drywall is during new construction by placing the scraps into interior wall cavities. This option reduces or eliminates transportation and disposal costs.
If your company also works with swimming pools, or you have a reciprocal relationship with a company that does, you can reuse drywall for gunite support. Gunite is sprayed on at very high pressure during new swimming pool construction. While it’s being sprayed on, gunite can be supported using cutoff pieces of drywall between ½ and 3/8 thickness. The pieces are then discarded after use.
Drywall also contains boron, a naturally occurring element that’s used as a fire retardant. It can be added to plants as a nutrient in places where the boron content is low in the soil, such as in soil made up of volcanic material. Although too much boron is toxic on more sensitive plants, it’s a valuable resource. Just be sure to check your soil level for boron if unsure about using it on plants.
Don’t bring it to a landfill
Anyone who regularly handles C&D waste knows many hazards are hiding in plain sight, and one of the biggest is asbestos, as we discussed earlier. Any structure built before 1978 could have asbestos, lead, or mercury in a variety of construction materials.
Consider reusing or recycling your drywall. Some of the most prominent soil amendment markets for gypsum include golf courses, composting, sod for lawns, general agriculture, nurseries, city parks, and forestry reclamation. It’s far too valuable to simply dump it at the landfill.
Recycle Your Drywall at Coastal Recycling Services
As the premiere transfer yard in the Jacksonville area, we are your best choice for recycling C&D drywall. We strive to provide the cleanest, well-maintained, and efficient recycling facility for all your C&D needs. Check out our website for a complete list of the materials we accept, and we look forward to seeing you!