Mr. Henrik Lund Nielson

Gypsum waste can and should be recycled
not wasted in landfills
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, CEO, MBA
Gypsum Recycling International A/S
Denmark, Europe
Gypsum Recycling
International A/S,
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, 49, is from Denmark.
He holds an MBA from Denmark as well as from
California, US. Prior to entering the recycling
industry, he worked as a CEO of subsidiary
companies of blue-chip Scandinavian corporations,
like the VELUX Group.
In 2003 he joined Gypsum Recycling International
as a main shareholder and CEO. Since then he has
spearheaded the company’s international
expansion in to several new countries and the
achievements realised by Gypsum Recycling
International under his management have earned
the company several environmental awards.
Henrik Lund-Nielsen is seen as the father of
gypsum plasterboard recycling in Europe and is a
frequent speaker at international conferences about
recycling, waste and climate change.
1. C&D and gypsum waste in
landfills around the globe
2. Gypsum waste is problematic in
the landfills
3. Benefits of recycling of gypsum
4. Successful policy instruments
5. Our proven gypsum recycling
Cows and the approach to the utilization of
resources found in the waste
SOCIALIST APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You decide to give one to your neighbor !
COMMUNIST APPROACH: You have two cows ….
The State takes both and gives you some milk !
BUREAUCRATIC APPROACH: You have two cows ….
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away !
FRENCH APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads
because you want to have three cows and feel that you rightfully deserve them !
AMERICAN APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why your only cow suddenly has dropped dead !
You decide to sue your vetenirarian !!
GERMAN APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You re-engineer them so they eat once a month, and milk themselves !
ITALIAN APPROACH: You have two cows …
but you don't know where they are. You decide to have lunch !
JAPANESE APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You re-design them to miniature cows that can produce 20 times the milk of bigger cows !
AUSTRALIAN APPROACH: You have two cows ….
Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate !
GRI APPROACH: You have two cows ….
You clean them up to make them attractive to each other.
They produce multiple baby cows that you can milk for many years !!!
• Traditionally, in most countries gypsum and plasterboard waste has
been landfilled mixed with other waste fractions
• Some countries, mainly European, have found out that this is not the
way to go for many reasons:
– Landfills are running out of space
– Gypsum waste is particularly problematic to landfill
– Landfilling gypsum waste does not utilize the ressources found in the
• Gypsum Recycling International has successfully developed and for
more than 10 years operated a technology that fully recycle gypsum
plasterboard waste and utilize all the ressources found in the
gypsum waste
• Both fractions:
– the gypsum and
– the paper
from the gypsum waste, is recycled for a 100% recycling rate
C&D and gypsum waste in Landfills Around the Globe
C&D waste is the largest or second largest waste fraction in most landfills
around the globe
Gypsum plasterboard/ wallboard waste is in most countries one of the 3
largest fractions of the C&D waste landfilled
The fraction is growing due to the continued increase in the manufacturing
and consumption of plasterboard (particularly in the Middle East)
As gypsum waste cannot be incenerated (due to the generation of sulphur
dioxide, a toxic gas) landfilling is the most typical disposal route in countries
where recycling of gypsum does not occur
 Worldwide it is estimated that 15 million tons of gypsum waste are landfilled,
but as gypsum waste is eternally recycable this does not have to be the
case !
Gypsum waste is problematic in the landfills
Landfilling gypsum waste make the landfills fill up faster
-> landfills reach their full capacity
-> very dificult to extent or build new landfills anywhere in the world
Gypsum waste generates hydrogen sulphide gas (H2S) in the landfills if
the gypsum waste is not landfilled in a separate cell where no organic
waste is present
H2S is lethal in large concentrations, and deaths cases have occured in
landfills due to H2S
As a consequence:
– Some states in the US and Canada have implemented a ban on landfilling of
gypsum waste
– the EU has implemented regulations requiring that if landfilled, the gypsum
waste is landfilled in a separate cell where no organic waste is present
Landfilling the gypsum waste lead to that the resources found in the
gypsum waste are literally wasted instead of being utilized
Benefits of Recycling Gypsum Waste
• Gypsum is eternally recycable without loss of quality, due tot the
chemical nature of the material
• Recycling generates local green jobs; landfilling does not require a
lot of labor, recycling does
• Recycling of gypsum waste in many countries lowers the import of
expensive gypsum raw materials from abroad
• Recycling helps the local gypsum industry to obtain raw materials at
a lower cost
• For each ton of gypsum waste that is being recycled instead of
landfilled 0,2 tons of CO2 emissions will be saved
• The Scandinavian and Benelux countries have achieved recycling
rates of gypsum waste ranging from 50-85% and the recycled
gypsum generated account for 25% of the gypsum raw materials
used by the local gypsum plants
Successful policy instruments:
Policy Instruments that do NOT work
Low or no landfill tax
Soft requirements like
– “best efforts”
– “to the greatest extent possible”
Regulations without enforcement;
– No inspections
– No tough financial penalties
“Social contracts” with the public, the waste sector or construction
 Why ?
 Because the waste industry is a „for profit“ business and the operator with the
lowest costs will prevail (also if this is caused by that the operator does not follow
the regulations)
 Consequently recycling will only happen if
 it makes economic sense to do it
 the authorities assure that operators not recycling will be penalized
Successful Policy Instruments
A high Landfill tax ;
– All studies of the recycling rates and landfill tax in various countries have found
that a very positive correlation between high landfill tax and high recycling rates
– The landfill tax in Scandinavia and Benelux is averagely 80 USD / ton
High landfill prices; If government controlled landfills, the landfills should price in the
lifetime cost of landfilling, not just the direct cost.
– The average landfill price in Scandinavia and Benelux is around 200 USD/T
A high incineration price and tax – to avoid C&D waste is sent to incineration,
when it can be recycled instead
Required on site segregation (into containers for the different waste fractions) at
building sites above a certain size of a certain minimum percentage of the waste
generated (typically 60-70%).
Requirement for obtaining building permits that a waste plan describing how 70% recycling of the
waste made during the building project can be achieved, coupled with requirement to report on the
volume of waste sent to recycling after the project has been completed
Ban on landfilling of specific waste types, that are recyclable
Strong culture of inspections, enforcement and penalties towards the construction and
especially the waste sector
About Gypsum Recycling International A/S: Summary
Worldwide the leading recycler of gypsum/plasterboard waste
The preferred partner for recycled gypsum raw materials for the top 5
plasterboard manufacturers in the world
Driven by new innovative solutions
– Mobile gypsum recycling system
– Own specialized collection system for gypsum waste
Active in 9 countries on 3 continents, including
the US and Japan
Recycling units in Europe, North America and Asia
Only focused on gypsum/plasterboard waste
Winner of numerous environmental awards, a.o. the “The Recycler of the
Year” in Sweden and the prestigious Cleantech Award; given to “The most
promising Danish Cleantech Company”
Gypsum Recycling System (since 2001)
In Cooperation with the Best
Gyproc/ Saint-Gobain
Siniat/ Lafarge
US Gypsum
National Gypsum
GRI serves all the
top plasterboard
groups in the
world. Multiple
different plants are
under contract with
GRI for the supply
of recycled plasterboard waste.
Traditional Gypsum Waste Recycling (the 2001 solution)
100% gypsum waste
90% RC gypsum powder
10% paper fraction
• Only the gypsum resources found in the
waste were fully utilized until now
• Paper fraction was not used as a paper
until now, but instead for incineration,
composting etc
New Gypsum Paper Recycling Solution
RC paper
gypsum waste
100% recycling
RC gypsum powder
• Completely in line with the EU‘s ambition of
utilizing all the ressources found in watse
 Co-funded by the Eco-innovation Initiative of
the European Union
 Investment of more than 2,2 Mio € split
between EU and GRI
New Gypsum Paper Recycling System
Previously and Now
100% gypsum waste
90% RC gypsum powder
10% paper fraction
100% gypsum waste
90% RC gypsum powder
End result
10% paper fraction
50% RC gypsum powder
50% RC paper
95% RC gypsum powder
5% RC paper
Closing Remarks
• Gypsum waste is filling up scarce space in the
• This space could be used for other nonrecycable materials instead
• Gypsum recycling is beneficial economically,
environmentally and it generates green jobs
• All resources found in plasterboard waste can
be fully utilized and nothing is wasted
The question is not whether to recycle
gypsum waste or not the question is when do you start?
Gypsum waste can and should be recycled
not wasted in landfills
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, CEO, MBA
Gypsum Recycling International A/S
Denmark, Europe

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