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Temple-Inland Gypsum Board

Temple-Inland manufactures a wide range of gypsum board products, including fire-rated, water-resistant, and impact-resistant lines… Read more
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  • Using materials recovered from the waste stream typically results in less waste, pollution, and energy use than using virgin materials. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is typically considered preferable to pre-consumer recycled content because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to have been diverted from landfills.

    In some cases, we consider products with recycled content green but with some caveats regarding where they should be used. For example, rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to the likelihood of VOC emissions.

    Recycling can have downsides. For example, some studies show that curbside collection programs and some recycling processes use more energy than they save. Closed-loop recycling is generally preferable to “down-cycling,” in which a lower-grade material is produced—but due to contamination of waste streams and the difficulty of extracting high-value ingredients, down-cycling may be as good as it gets. At times recycling can re-introduce hazardous components. Some products, like copper and aluminum, include a high level of recycled content as a matter of course—which we applaud, but don’t consider justification for listing in GreenSpec. As more complete life-cycle information on recycled materials and processes becomes available, we use that to increase our scrutiny of recycled products.

  • 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.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

Temple-Inland manufactures a wide range of gypsum board products, including fire-rated, water-resistant, and impact-resistant lines. The gypsum board contains up to 94% pre-consumer recycled content, including synthetic gypsum, and up to 3% post-consumer recycled content, depending on the product and manufacturing location. The recycled content is verified by SCS. Temple Inland offers a two-year warranty on its paper-faced gypsum board products.

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.

LEED Credits

MRc4: Recycled Content

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