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Sheetrock and Fiberock Gypsum Board

USG offers Sheetrock, a line of gypsum board products, and Fiberock, a line of fiber-reinforced gypsum board… Read more
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  • Pre-consumer (also called “post-industrial”) recycling refers to the reuse of industrial by-products, as distinguished from material that has been in consumer use. The iron-ore slag used to make mineral wool insulation and the fly ash used to make concrete are examples of post-industrial recycled materials. While post-consumer recycled content is preferable, a product that uses pre-consumer content or recycles a seldom-used waste product, especially in an area where recycled products are hard to find, can be considered green.

    Excluded from this category, by FTC definitions, is the use of scrap within the same manufacturing process from which it was generated—material that would typically have gone back into the manufacturing process anyway.

USG offers Sheetrock, a line of gypsum board products, and Fiberock, a line of fiber-reinforced gypsum board. Fiberock products come unfaced and offer increased strength and durability. The gypsum board contains up to 95% pre-consumer recycled content, including synthetic gypsum, depending on the product and manufacturing location, and USG does not offer products with post-consumer recycled content. The recycled content is verified by SCS. The Sheetrock UltraLight 1/2" panel, manufactured at USG's East Chicago, Indiana plant, is certified to the Gold level of UL Environment's ISR 100 multi-attribute standard.

Gypsum board, or drywall, is typically made with 100% recycled, unbleached paper facings that are bonded without adhesives onto a gypsum core.

Mined gypsum is still widely used in gypsum board production, but recycled and synthetic gypsum increasingly contribute to production. Post-consumer recycled gypsum is mainly comprised of scraps from construction. Pre-consumer recycled content includes synthetic, or flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, a coal-combustion byproduct obtained from stack scrubbers that remove sulfur from coal-fired power plant emissions.

Synthetic gypsum may replace up to 100% of the natural gypsum in drywall. The amount of recycled content in drywall varies not only by manufacturer, but also by product and by manufacturing location, so if you’re looking for recycled content, be sure to ask manufacturers for specific figures.

In synthetic gypsum, and to some degree in virgin gypsum as well, toxic hazards and heavy metals are concerns at the manufacturing and end-of-life stages of the product. Although heavy metals don’t concentrate in synthetic gypsum the same way they do in fly ash, they are still present in small amounts, and those amounts may increase as power-plant emissions standards tighten. (For more discussion of these issues, see "Measuring Drywall Against Environmental Standards” in EBN.)

While indoor environmental quality concerns haven’t yet emerged with gypsum board made in the U.S., watch out for leaching concerns in landfills, and when recycling gypsum board as an agricultural amendment.

Paper facings provide an ideal medium for mold growth in conditions of high humidity, or if wallboard gets wet due to flooding or leaking water. To combat this, manufacturers include biocide treatments in some product lines, and offer other product lines with integral cellulose or fiberglass fibers instead of paper facing.

GreenSpec is concerned about introducing biocides into building products, and considers them ineffective in fighting mold. GreenSpec recommends non-paper-faced wallboard in applications where moisture may be a concern, and includes specific listings for those products.

GreenSpec also lists standard drywall products for North American manufacturers that typically offer recycled content, Greenguard Children & Schools certifications, and certification to UL Environment ISR 100.

Drywall is energy-intensive to produce, and so avoiding waste is one of the easiest steps to reduce your environmental impact in this area. For example, consider 54"-wide gypsum board for more efficient wall coverage in rooms with 9' ceilings.

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MRc4: Recycled Content

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