Are You Allowed to Put Plasterboard in a Skip?
Plasterboard is a staple in UK construction, providing versatile interior surfaces ready for decoration. However, if you are renovating a house or using it for a DIY project, it is important to understand that plasterboard cannot simply be thrown in the skip with other waste.
The dust from broken plasterboard poses a health hazard and gypsum particles can have environmental impacts in landfill. Special care must be taken when disposing of used plasterboard. This article will examine what plasterboard is made of, the risks associated with it, and the recommended practices for safe plasterboard disposal.
What is Plasterboard Used For?
Plasterboard is used for lining interior walls and ceilings so they can be skimmed and painted/papered. It consists of a gypsum plaster core sandwiched between two thick sheets of paper or fibreboard. Plasterboard is valued for its fire resistance, affordability, and ease of installation. It can be cut and fastened to timber or metal framing to quickly create smooth interior surfaces ready for plastering, painting and decorating.
Plasterboard walls and ceilings provide structure, sound insulation, fire protection, and an ideal surface for applying finishes. Most modern homes have plasterboard on interior walls and ceilings.
What is Plasterboard Made From?
Plasterboard is manufactured from several key ingredients – gypsum, paper/fibre liner and additives. Gypsum is a soft sulphate mineral that is mined and ground into a fine powder. This forms the core, which makes up over 90% of the plasterboard’s weight.
The gypsum is mixed with water and other additives to control setting time and enhance fire resistance. It is then sandwiched between sheets of thick paper or fibreboard liner and formed into board sections at a production line. The paper lining allows handling and supports the core once dry.
Plasterboard contains no harmful asbestos fibres, unlike older plasterboard products made before the 1980s.
Modern plasterboard is recyclable and classified as non-hazardous waste.
Why Is It Banned from Landfill?
As of April 2009, and under UK law, the Environment Agency banned plasterboard from being placed in landfill. This is because of the environmental impact of plasterboard when mixed with other waste materials – it can emit hydrogen sulphide as part of the putrefaction process. This unpleasant gas not only smells bad but is corrosive, poisonous, flammable, and also potentially explosive.
As a result, most skip hire companies will not allow plasterboard to be placed in their skip.
Read more: The History of Waste Management in London
Is Plasterboard Hazardous to Health?
Although plasterboard itself is considered non-hazardous, when broken it can produce dust containing gypsum particles. Inhaling this fine powder dust on a regular basis can irritate the lungs, eyes and skin. Prolonged exposure may potentially cause more serious lung conditions through the build-up of calcium sulphate in the lungs.
Gypsum dust is also a major irritant for those with asthma or existing respiratory issues, who should avoid exposure. As plasterboard is fragile, any improperly dumped boards are likely to break up, increasing the dust hazard.
Skips containing broken plasterboard could expose waste collectors or those working nearby to this irritating dust. This is why plasterboard needs careful handling and containment during demolition work and disposal.
How Can I Dispose of Plasterboard?
Despite the potential hazards, there are ways to safely dispose of used plasterboard in skips or at waste facilities. Here are some top tips for plasterboard disposal:
- Inform your skip hire company – The skip company should be informed that you intend to dispose of plasterboard. Some may not allow it or apply extra charges for specialist disposal.
- Separate and contain – Keep plasterboard separate from other waste types to avoid it breaking up. Place it in a self-contained and dedicated area while working. Use plastic sheeting to wrap boards and keep them dry or hire a covered skip.
- Crush/fold boards – Fold or gently crush boards to fit more in skips and reduce void space. Do not smash them to minimise dust.
- Opt for specialist disposal – Plasterboard recycling and hazardous waste disposal services are available. Ask your skip hire company whether they offer this service or contact us today.
- Wear PPE – Use appropriate respirators, gloves and eye protection when handling and loading loose plasterboard to limit dust exposure.
By following these plasterboard disposal guidelines, you can help reduce environmental and health impacts. While plasterboard shouldn’t be treated as regular construction waste, responsible disposal options are available allowing it to be managed safely. Check with your local skip hire company if in doubt about the preferred plasterboard disposal methods in your area or give us a call.
Here at RJ Waste Management, we specialise in Skip Hire & Rubbish Clearance and all aspects of waste removal to suit every single one of our customer’s needs.