Environmental Protection

Grant Brings Gypsum Recycling to Forefront

New building construction is good for the economy, but the possibility exists for leftover drywall to make its way into Indiana landfills. That's where Indiana-based Cheron, Inc. comes into play. Owners Ron and Cheryl Chamberlain of Indianapolis use an innovative method for converting scrap drywall into a soil additive that improves the quality of farmland, according to an Indiana Department of Environmental Management press release.

Drywall is composed of gypsum, which is a soft mineral that dissolves over time when wet.

The Chamberlains brought gypsum recycling as an amendment for farmers' soils in 2006, and their innovation was rewarded with an Indiana Department of Environmental Management $30,000 Recycled Product Marketing grant. State funding, which has represented half of Cheron's marketing budget, has helped the Chamberlains market the process and product to farmers statewide.

"By creating awareness and demand for the beneficial use of gypsum within the Indiana agricultural community, Indiana farmers can realize true benefits," Ron Chamberlain said. "Using gypsum on Indiana soil not only enhances farmers' productivity and the state's output, but it also helps protect our environment by capturing more carbon dioxide, reducing soil erosion, and helping with the offsite movement of pollutants such as excess nutrients and pesticides."

The Chamberlains have focused much of their efforts on establishing markets for gypsum in the agricultural, commercial landscape, and home gardening industries.

Cheron estimates that more than 20,000 tons of synthetic gypsum and scrap drywall will be diverted from landfills and land applied in Indiana this year. Additionally, by 2010, Cheron expects to be diverting 200,000 tons of gypsum away from the waste stream and landfills.

"Anytime someone can create something that positively affects the environment, we are proud to offer assistance," said agency Commissioner Thomas Easterly. "This was an extremely worthwhile venture that has resulted in tremendous results."

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