Drywall and Landfills

What Can Go Wrong?

Drywall, also referred to as gypsum board, wallboard, plasterboard, and sheetrock are manufactured from calcium sulfate dihydrate, which is a naturally occurring mineral from dried sea beds. One might think that because it’s from a natural resource, that it would, naturally decompose in our landfills without harming our environment. But that’s not the case.

Other agents are used in manufacturing drywall solutions for the building industry, including paper and boron which helps with fire-ratings. And for products manufactured outside of the US, there’s no site in telling what other chemicals make up final wall boards.

The issue with traditional handling of drywall disposals in landfills are the problems that affect our environment with its decomposition process. In wet, moist climates, an anaerobic effect takes place, and foul, egg-rotten odor from hydrogen sulfide gas is produced, which can also be toxic at high concentrations (~1,000 parts per million).

And according to a US Environmental Protection Agency’s study, heavy metals found in synthetic gypsum can contaminate drinking water resources; toxic chemicals have leaching values of up to 550 times the level for safe drinking water.

In an effort to curb the potential harm to our environment and reduce the amount of drywall scrap in our landfills, various recycling programs are available which include soil amendment, site reuse, and donations to non-profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

However, CalReycle recommends finding substitutes that are reusable, such as modular “demountable partitions” for commercial buildings, avoiding issues with drywall disposal and reducing waste altogether.

Eco-friendly reusable products like McCain Walls® help eliminate tons of new drywall waste and temporary wall demolitions by providing a reusable product that can be reconfigured endless times, then recycled when no longer needed.

Manufactured from recyclable material, McCain Walls also eliminates exposure to potentially harmful dust particles and VOCs that are commonly found in the installation and removal of gypsum products.

To learn more about the proper handling of drywall disposals and recycling programs, visit CalRecycle.