Chalk Plaster is a plain and decorative plastering company established by Ffion and Steven Blench in 2016. Using a range of materials including lime, gypsum and clay, Chalk Plaster undertake both traditional historic restoration work as well as executing contemporary designs for modern interiors. Much of their work explores how traditional craft knowledge and techniques can still contribute something new to contemporary architecture and design.
For this project, Chalk Plaster have made some new objects by reclaiming the plaster in waste plasterboard. This material has become almost indispensable to the modern construction industry. It is composed of a core of plaster wrapped in a paper lining. The plaster used to create the plasterboard core is usually produced from natural rock gypsum, which is mined at number of sites in England. Since the introduction of legislation in 2009 waste gypsum can no longer be disposed of in conventional landfill sites. Gypsum products are one of very few modern construction materials which have the potential to be 100% recyclable. Gypsum is relatively simple to process and its chemical composition allows it to be reprocessed and reused without diminishing the quality of the final products. Although this is true in principle, it is far more complicated in practice as once plasterboard has been used, recycling it becomes more of a challenge. Reprocessing plasterboard waste from refurbishments and demolitions is problematic partly due to contaminants such as nails, wallpaper, paint, pieces of wood etc – which make it difficult to process – and partly due to a variety of additives within the plaster core.
Currently, few recycling plants take material from demolition sites owing to impurities, and those that do often struggle to find a market for the reprocessed material. Through this project Chalk Plaster use their technical experience to explore new possibilities of using reprocessed plasterboard gypsum in a creative context.