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Why can’t you put plasterboard in a skip?

Domestic skip hire is an essential way to get rid of waste materials when carrying out home refurbishments, and of course on a larger scale, commercial skip hire has the same purpose when renovating large residential blocks, office spaces and other premises.

But there’s an important point to remember, and that is that plasterboard should never be put in a hired skip as part of mixed building waste – and in many cases, skip hire companies will not collect it at all.

So why can’t you put plasterboard in a skip? As with most other restricted items, it’s a matter of public safety, and not just what’s convenient for the skip hire provider.

Plasterboard – also known as gypsum or drywall – contains high levels of sulphates due to its gypsum content, and when this is disposed of along with general waste, it reacts to create hydrogen sulphide, chemical formula H2S.

This process is called putrefaction, and it can occur in landfill sites and in skips if discarded drywall is allowed to get wet – so why is it so dangerous?

The hazards of H2S

Hydrogen sulphide is heavier than air, which means it is able to collect in large quantities in invisible pools in the environment.

It’s colourless, but you’ll usually be able to tell if you’ve got a skip full of hydrogen sulphide, as it has a distinct odour of rotten eggs, and this makes it extremely uncomfortable to have to deal with.

More significantly though, it is poisonous, corrosive – not good for your hired skip – and can burn and even explode, creating an entirely avoidable hazardous area on commercial sites, and an unnecessary risk during home improvements for domestic skip hire customers too.

All of this can be avoided by keeping gypsum board out of your skip and away from any rain, standing water and other sources of humidity.

Even small quantities should be collected up and kept to one side, and you might even want to consider keeping waste gypsum covered or in an air conditioned space to protect it from humidity.

How to dispose of gypsum

You can’t put gypsum in a skip or in your general household waste – so how can you dispose of it?

For domestic skip hire customers, contact your local council as they might offer a collection service for small quantities of plasterboard from household refurbishments.

Meanwhile commercial skip hire customers should look into setting up a recycling contract. Gypsum can be directly reused with minimal processing in many cases, making it a good substitute for virgin gypsum produced from raw materials.

Because of this, it can be recycled time and time again, helping to reduce the consumption of natural resources, while making it a surprisingly valuable recyclable waste material for construction companies in particular.

Ultimately this is one of the best reasons not to just throw it into a hired commercial skip – quite apart from all the safety implications of doing so, you could be throwing money away if you don’t sell your gypsum waste to a recycling specialist.