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The Gypsum Products Development Association (GPDA) represents the four major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers in the UK and Ireland – British Gypsum, Lafarge Plasterboard, Knauf Drywall and Gypsum Industries.
In 2007, aware of the growing need to address the amount of plasterboard waste going to landfill and the consequent perceived environmental impact, the GPDA has worked with Defra and WRAP representatives at Ashdown House to set two measurable recycling goals for the industry.
Goal one was to reduce the amount of waste generated by plasterboard manufacture being sent to landfill from 30,000 to10,000 tonnes/year by 2010. Goal two was to increase recycling from new construction plasterboard waste to 50%, again by 2010.
The GPDA members are committed participants of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) “sustainability roadmaps”. Defra defines a roadmap as “a tool to help us better understand the environmental and social impacts of a particular product and the ways in which these impacts can be mitigated”. Its roadmaps will identify environmental impact throughout a product’s life cycle, set out a course of action and provide funding to develop short, medium, and long term measures aimed at the life cycle stages with the greatest scope for improved sustainability.
The GPDA and its partners in the Plasterboard Sustainability Partnership (PSP) developed the new Plasterboard Sustainability Action Plan to enable plasterboard to maintain its prominent position as a construction material through further positive steps to reduce environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle.
The PSP has set five broad objectives for the action plan:
1. efficient manufacturing
2. safer handling
3. towards zero waste to landfill
4. making the most of materials
5. partnering on sustainability
As part of the GPDA’s commitment to continuous safety improvement, from the end of July 2010 UK and Irish plasterboard manufacturers added new printed guidance on manual handling to plasterboard products.
This safe handling guidance was one of a number of initiatives generated by an industry-wide forum led by the Health & Safety Executive and comprises: a warning triangle, a graphic showing a two-person board lift, board weight, and a statement to ‘Handle Safely’. These four parts now appear on the reverse face of plasterboard products, alongside existing technical and compliance information, manufactured by GPDA members.
The primary function of the GPDA is to develop and encourage the understanding of gypsum-based building products and systems and to pioneer new applications for these products. It also has an ongoing commitment to advise on matters of environmental impact, energy conservation and health and safety, wherever gypsum based products are used.
European legislation is having an increasing influence on the way gypsum products are produced, specified and used. Issues such as impact on the environment, harmonisation of standards, CE marking, reduction of waste, and health and safety are already being addressed by the gypsum industry on a European scale.
The GPDA is an active member of Eurogypsum, the European Federation of national associations of producers of gypsum products whose prime aim is to promote both the products and interests of these producers. It undertakes joint research projects on relevant scientific, technical-economic and legal matters and by initiating information and public relations programmes. It places particular emphasis on dialogue with European governmental institutions and for this reason a Eurogypsum representation office was opened in Brussels in 1996.
There are three working committees:
- one for scientific and technical matters
- one for environmental and raw materials, and
- one for economic issues and public relations.
There are other European organisations which also have an influence on European developments. The Council of European Producers for Materials for Construction (CEPMC) represents the interests of its members – the National Council of Building Material Producers in the UK and the Building Materials Confederation in Ireland – on issues such as the implementation of the Construction Products Directive, fire protection in construction and environmental issues. Eurogypsum is an associate member of this organisation.
Through these organisations, and also through the BSI, members of the GPDA make an enormous contribution to the development of harmonised standards in Europe. There are currently nine formal and ad-hoc committees working on CEN standards relating to gypsum products, including acoustic properties, fire safety, dry lining, plasters and floor screeds. TC241 which deals with gypsum products is currently working on 17 standards dealing with the definitions, requirements and test methods for gypsum products. It is expected that the first of these will be produced by the year 2000.
For its part, Eurogypsum is also working on a multi-lingual lexicon of gypsum products enabling the translation of terms related to gypsum products and systems between English, French and German. This is a revised version of a 1975 document, since when technology and the understanding of different national approaches has moved on.
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