I have been reading with some alarm the news reports about the defective drywall from China. Since I am in the middle of a construction project in my house that involves a good amount of new drywall, this is a matter of potentially great concern to me. All I know about drywall is what I see in the drywall aisle at Home Depot. I’ve renamed this aisle “Drywall Alley”. When I was in Drywall Alley, I imagined how much rock was quarried to produce it. I decided to learn just how non-environmentally friendly my new drywall is. I was afraid of the answer, but I needed to know. Part of the journey to sustainability is knowing how far you have to go to get to the goal.
I got a very pleasant surprise when I went to the drywall company’s website: http://www.nationalgypsum.com. The front page had an unexpected link to a “sustainable products” pdf. This pdf talks about where the gypsum board was manufactured, providing some transparency to the process. I am pleased to report that there was nothing manufactured in China (thus, no sulphur additives). There was also a “green practices” link. My curiosity got the better of me. I had to look. Who ever heard of sustainable/ green drywall, anyways?
Assuming the company’s claims are to be believed (never a 100% solution), there are actually some nifty sustainable aspects to drywall manufacture such as: the face paper comes from recycled product (diverted from landfills); the dust created by the manufacturing process is itself re-used. Various solvents are recycled and byproduct gypsum is recycled from the debris of coal-fired power plants.
The most surprising snippet on the green practices page was a link to a “Construction Materials Recycling Association”. I never knew such construction debris could be recycled. Their website http://www.cdrecycling.org talks about recycling shingles, asphalt, concrete, and drywall. They even have a drywallrecycling.org site that lists some drywall recyclers. My neighbor told me there is even a place in Southampton, PA (within a half hour of my house) that also recycles construction materials. This might be worth a road trip.
Wow. I hope this is all true. Maybe my drywall has some environmentally redeeming characteristics after all. I like the fact that my ultimate drywall supplier, National Gypsum, makes a big deal of being a “green manufacturer.” I like the fact that I might be actually be able to recycle some of the old drywall. If National Gypsum’s claims are true, and I can indeed recycle some of the old stuff, I’ll be a happy sustainable drywall aficionado indeed.