Plasterboard sustainability reaches a new level of importance with the launch of a comprehensive action plan involving the entire plasterboard supply chain and various government agencies, says Crispin Dunn-Meynell of the Gypsum Products Development Association (GPDA). The new Plasterboard Sustainability Action Plan, announced at the Built Environment Solutions and Technologies Show, creates opportunities to build on existing sustainability initiatives and to establish new actions where necessary.
Crispin Dunn-Meynell says: “The plasterboard manufacturers – which the GPDA represents – together with specifiers and contractors have already contributed to significant improvements in plasterboard sustainability as a result of the product roadmap launched in 2008 and the subsequent Ashdown Agreement on waste reduction. The new action plan developed by the GPDA and its partners in the Plasterboard Sustainability Partnership (PSP) will enable plasterboard to maintain its prominent position as a construction material through further positive steps to reduce environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle.”
He says the PSP plan is a constructive engagement designed to achieve goals that are reasonable but potentially very significant in terms of environmental benefits. “The partners are working together to ensure that plasterboard has the greenest possible credentials, so it can satisfy the most stringent future sustainability requirements while continuing to provide high quality building solutions.”
The PSP is already backing the plan with more than 20 new actions, each subject to annual review or firm deadlines between now and 2013. Topping the list is for plasterboard manufacturers to innovate further in support of targets for zero carbon homes by 2016 (non-residential buildings by 2019). The PSP has set five broad objectives for the action plan:
This envisages further development of manufacturers’ activities to improve production line energy consumption, reduce transport impacts, increase recycled content and develop new products that are less wasteful to install and perform better in the wall, for example, by reducing heat loss.
Working with the Health and Safety Executive, the PSP aims to control the risk of injury from storage, moving and handling plasterboard. One of the first results in this area is an agreement with manufacturers to print a safety logo and weight information on sheets of plasterboard.
Towards zero waste to landfill
In addition to existing agreements to divert plasterboard waste from landfill, the PSP has initiated actions such as providing small-scale recycling facilities, and developing systems to recycle and recover materials less easily recycled – such as demolition waste and foil-backed or thermal laminate boards.
Making the most of materials
The PSP wants more focus on activities to prevent waste in the first place, and it wants to encourage designers and specifiers to design buildings that are less wasteful to build and where recovery of recyclable material is more easily achieved on demolition. This, with improved site practices by contractors, could easily halve the plasterboard waste stream.
Partnering on sustainability
Citing the rapid progress that it has made so far, the PSP says an ongoing partnership involving key industry and government stakeholders is the essential framework for minimising plasterboard’s environmental impacts and capitalising on the positive contribution it makes to the build process and the built environment.
Whilst it is easy to say that an industry is committed to sustainability, actions speak louder than words. In the case of plasterboard, the industry is striving to put that commitment into practice by working across industry and with Government for continuous improvement in sustainability and environmental performance. The GPDA is proud to be a main driver in this innovative partnership.
Members of the PSP include GPDA; the three UK plasterboard manufacturers: British Gypsum, Knauf Drywall and Lafarge Plasterboard; the Builders Merchants Federation; the Building Research Establishment; the Construction Products Association, the Association of Interior Specialists, and the Federation of Plastering and Drylining Contractors; building contractors; recycling companies and government agencies. For more information on the PSP, go to www.plasterboardpartnership.org
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