Skip to main content
Logotip Europske komisije
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The path to a circular economy: a European collaborative project between the recycling industry, the demolition sector and the Gypsum Industry

Objectives of the commitment

The overall aim of the GtoG project is to transform the gypsum demolition waste market to achieve higher recycling rates of gypsum waste, thereby helping to achieve a resource efficient economy. The market transformation will start happening with the establishment in the project of a collaborative business model between the demolition/processing/manufacturing & recycling industries.

Close loop recycling for gypsum products will only happen if:

  1. Deconstruction techniques are applied systematically for all demolition and refurbishment projects;
  2. Sorting of waste is done at source - thereby avoiding mixed waste;
  3. Processing is carried out according to clear standards;
  4. Incorporation in the production process is carried out with innovative processes.

Therefore, the GtoG project aims to put in place an integrated approach to holistically manage construction and demolition waste, starting from the major refurbishment/demolition sites to the reinsertion of the recycled gypsum in the manufacturing process via the processing of the gypsum waste as a secondary raw material. This integrated approach is using gypsum products but could be extended, adapted and applied to any other type of construction material used in light-weight construction.

In order to reach the main goal of the GtoG project, surveys on waste recycling and deconstruction practices and economics will be carried out in the major EU gypsum product consumers, namely in France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Poland. This is necessary due to the strong regional orientation of current practices. Pilot projects implementing the deconstruction techniques, the decontamination, the waste qualification and reprocessing in Gypsum manufacturing plants will be carried out in France, the UK, Germany and Belgium. The outcomes of these pilot projects will be used to reassess the findings of the surveys.

The producers involved are large companies operating European wide, whose goal is to harmonise the best practices in deconstruction/waste characterisation/waste qualification and reprocessing in gypsum plants. The transnational aspects of the project are therefore essential for the uptake of the outcomes across the value chain.

The work to be performed includes in summary:

  • diagnosis of buildings prior to deconstruction;
  • auditing and the creation of an inventory of recyclable materials;
  • decontamination of waste if necessary and separation of different waste streams (sorting and segregation);
  • Processing of the gypsum waste received;
  • Qualifying Gypsum Waste and, finally;
  • reprocessing of the waste in plasterboard manufacturing plants of (cradle to cradle approach)

Description of the activities

  1. Diagnosis of the building. To achieve the overall objectives, it is necessary to focus first on the deconstruction practices and to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of deconstruction versus demolition. The target is to establish a European “handbook of best practices” for controlled deconstruction of gypsum systems at demolition sites. This handbook should become a standard that will lead the European deconstruction companies to operate in a consistent and coordinated way all over Europe. Prior to deconstruction, a diagnostic assessment of the building and audit of materials to be deconstructed are mandatory. A European “manual of best practices for the audit of buildings” will be made available. This work will be executed by the demolition companies that are partners to the project.
  2. Processing gypsum demolition waste. The major objectives of processing are separation of the gypsum from the paper and the size reduction of the gypsum. This work will be executed by the gypsum processors that are partners to the project.
  3. Qualifying gypsum waste. The above-mentioned separation is done according to agreed specifications between the gypsum processors and the gypsum manufacturers in a contractual form. Qualifications exist, but these need to be examined, reviewed and made relevant to the proposed new source of raw material. They also need to be standardised as they differ from country to country .
  4. Incorporation of the processed gypsum into the manufacturing process, including an assessment of technical difficulties, options and solutions. This pilot work will be executed by the gypsum manufacturers, partners to the project. By developing innovative techniques in pilot plants, the GtoG project aims to incorporate up to 30% secondary gypsum (recycled gypsum in the gypsum product coming from production, construction and demolition waste) in those pilot plants.
  5. Production of European criteria for recycled gypsum to establish the end of waste status and apply for a Council regulation to confirm these criteria under Directive 2008/98/EC. An iterative process will take place between processors and manufacturers to produce those specifications. This work will be executed on the basis of the methodology developed by the JRC for end-of-waste criteria in 2008 and on the basis of the UK PAS 109-2008-specification for the production of recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard .
  6. On the basis of the results of point 1 to 4, establish, if feasible, a recycling target for gypsum waste. Nonetheless, without the effective optimisation of deconstruction and recycling and reliable waste statistics , a recycling target will be difficult to set. Nevertheless, assuming that the business model works in practice and assuming that the total consumption of plasterboards is around 10.000.000 tons/year in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden, UK, Portugal, The Netherlands, Poland, Austria and Finland, that 10% become construction waste and 5% ends in the deconstruction, a 15% recycling target for construction and demolition gypsum waste could be considered, i.e. 1.500.000 tons as a European average.
  7. Reassessment of the percentage of recycled gypsum in the board which is set currently at 5% in the comprehensive criteria in the Green public procurement criteria for wall panels (i.e. plasterboard) developed by the European Commission;
  8. Throughout the project, assess the carbon footprint and the methods to mitigate it at the construction level, transport level, processing level and manufacturing level. A life cycle assessment of plasterboard was carried out by WRAP in 2007 encompassing all life cycle stages from raw material production to end-of-life management of type “A” plasterboard (commonly used in the UK). One of the headline findings reported in the study was that over the entire life-cycle, each sheet of the baseline plasterboard assessed was found to cause the emission of the equivalent of 12kg of CO2. The life-cycle stages contributing the highest emissions were production of conventional gypsum (the typical mix of natural and synthetic gypsum used in the UK); plasterboard production; and landfill disposal of waste plasterboard. The study showed that using more recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard in the manufacture of the new plasterboard contributed to a small reduction in the associated CO2 emissions during the course of that product’s lifecycle. This results from avoiding the need to produce, transport and pre-process conventional gypsum and avoiding landfill disposal of the waste plasterboard through recycling. While this benefit was only small when compared to the overall CO2 impacts of plasterboard manufacture, it is significant in that it indicates that increasing the content of recycled gypsum in plasterboard has no negative CO2 impact. When considering the waste stage of the plasterboard life-cycle, processing it to produce recycled gypsum was found to have lower global warming potential than disposal of it in mixed waste landfill. We have no existing studies for the demolition phase. The assessment of the carbon footprint of demolition will be assessed in the project.

Description of the expected impacts

  • European Handbook of best practices for controlled deconstruction of gypsum system;
  • European Manual of best practices for the audit of building;
  • European specification/qualifications for recycled Gypsum;
  • Establish the end of waste status for recycled Gypsum;
  • Apply for a Council regulation establishing criteria determining when gypsum waste ceases to be waste under Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • Establish a recycling target for gypsum waste, if feasible;
  • Adapt the Green Public procurement Wall panels Sheet providing a 2% recycled gypsum in the panel;
  • Assess the optimal European average percentage of recycled gypsum that could be incorporated in the production process;
  • Assess the carbon footprint of gypsum waste recycling;
  • Create a culture of deconstruction rather than demolition.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: EUROGYPSUM AISBLCountry: BelgiumEntity profile: OtherRole within the commitment:

Overall financial and administrative coordination of the project (Action E1 in the Life proposal) + dessimination part (tools-activiites-seminars-confenrece, DCD,etc) http://gypsumtogypsum.org/

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research. Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials. Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile: Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes. CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile: Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.

Relight

Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes. KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection. KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.

FIDAMC

Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material. FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.

COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER

Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers. Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: Yes

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-01-2013 to 31-12-2015