What is it?

Drywall is made of a sheet of gypsum, covered by a paper facing and a paperboard backing. Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined in ancient sea beds. Drywall makes up 13% of all Construction, Renovation & Demolition (CRD) waste.

What is the Issue?

Drywall makes up a large portion of CRD which is responsible for generating 25 - 40 percent of the national solid waste stream. This means that drywall makes a big contribution to the materials that end up in landfills. 

Where can it go?

Drywall recycling options are somewhat limited in Saskatchewan.

In terms of reuse, Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores will accept drywall (minimum dimensions ~ 2’ x 2’) for resale, but their capacities are limited.

Please check our database under Construction / Demolition for more options.

One Canadian drywall recycling success story is New West Gypsum Recycling in Vancouver. Since 1986, they’ve recycled over 2 million tonnes of drywall scrap.

Their success is the result of some key factors: a large market, a local landfill ban on drywall waste, and nearby new drywall plants. The landfill ban allows New West to charge a tipping fee ($82.50/tonne in Vancouver) to accept drywall waste. All of their recycled gypsum is sold to local drywall producers, who can use more than 25% recycled content in their products. Paper recovered from the drywall is washed and sent to a local paper mill for recycling. Their other facilities (Ontario, U.S. and U.K.) compost the paper.

What Happens After?

Recycling drywall often involves a mechanical process to separate the gypsum from the paper, nails etc. Gypsum with a very small paper content can be used in new drywall, cement and fertilizer production as well as other agricultural processes. Scrap drywall can be added to composting operations. The paper components will be broken down in the compost. The gypsum doesn’t break down but does provide calcium and sulfur which can be beneficial to certain crops or soils.

How can I Reduce?

  • About 12% of new construction drywall is wasted during installation. One way to reduce the amount of drywall waste from a project is to put the drywall scraps into the interior wall cavities. This provides a little extra soundproofing and insulation and doesn’t hurt anything.
  • There is a limited ability to reuse drywall as many of the sheets are marked with nail or screw holes and cut to make spaces for outlets. Some pieces however, could be used for patching jobs.
  • Order materials to optimally fit your needs; try to avoid having excess materials delivered to the project site. This will reduce the amount of waste produced and the cost of the project.