Urban Gypsum Recycling
Urban Gypsum is a drywall recycler, recycling excess drywall into gypsum for agricultural use. Their state-of-the-art facility can turn drywall into 99.3% gypsum within just a few hours. Being just short of 100%, Urban Gypsum's product has been shown to be more pure compared to the gypsum extracted by mining. Many of the gypsum mines in the U.S. are located in Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nevada and transportation costs from the mines can make up a significant portion of the cost for farmers. Urban Gypsum is the only gypsum recycler in the Pacific Northwest, allowing them to provide local farmers with a higher quality soil amendment at a much lower price. In addition, the company recycles all of the excess paper extracted during drywall processing to be used as bedding for local farm animals.
The company's facilities are approved to process 150,000 tons of drywall per year. Within their first six months of operation, their facility processed 3,000 tons of drywall, and this number is expected to increase over time. In comparison, the U.S., Europe, and Asia are currently sending over 15 million tons of usable gypsum to landfills. As building and development continues to increase, the millions of tons of debris generated by construction and demolition are projected to increase significantly in the years to come. In 2015, the U.S. generated 548 million tons of construction and demolition debris, much of which can't be used for future projects and is sent to landfills.
Recycling drywall benefits building contractors because it saves them money. Builders pay a lot of money to dispose of project scraps and debris, but they can save money over time when they divert waste from the landfill by sending materials to recyclers. Before Urban Gypsum, Willamette Construction Services was paying upwards of $500,000 per year hauling drywall to be sent to the landfill. Sending so much of a valuable resource to the landfill had an economic cost and, for Willamette Construction, it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. This inspired them to open Urban Gypsum and their new facility in 2018, providing an alternative for drywall disposal that supports local agriculture and contractors while providing Willamette Construction Services with a new branch of their business. With intentions to expand nationwide, Urban Gypsum has goals to make drywall recycling a norm in the Pacific Northwest and all across the country.