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Life cycle assessment of natural and recycled gypsum production in the Spanish context

Pedreño-Rojas, M.A., Fořt, J., Černý, R., Rubio-de-Hita, P.
Journal of cleaner production 2020 v.253 pp. 120056
endpoint indicator, environmental assessment, environmental impact, factories, gypsum, wastes, Spain
Spain occupies a very prominent position as a world producer of gypsum. Consequently, the industrial processes are more refined, as the production volumes of the factories are much higher than in other countries. Therefore, the environmental impacts of the production of one ton of gypsum are significantly lower. However, new cleaner alternatives must be studied to promote more sustainable construction. In that sense, this paper aims at studying the environmental assessment of the production of natural and recycled gypsum in the Spanish context. In order to conduct the environmental analysis, a from cradle to gate life cycle assessment (LCA) was carried out, using the Impact 2002 + methodology. All the input data was obtained from a medium-size gypsum manufacturer located in Jaen (Andalusia), one of the best regions in terms of gypsum purity. The results for all the scenarios under study were analyzed separately and compared with previous studies published by other investigators and manufacturers’ reports data. Contrary to most other previous researches, the LCA was performed on the basis of primary data given by the producer, and the regional factors were also taken into account.The results achieved in the LCA showed for the production of recycled gypsum (from plasterboard and powder waste) a significant improvement (more than 40%) in all the impact categories understudy, as compared to the natural gypsum production. Furthermore, the results obtained for the endpoint indicators showed an important reduction (56 and 58%) of the environmental impacts when recycled gypsum production was compared with the natural one. On the other hand, it was reaffirmed that the natural gypsum production process in Spain is less environmentally harmful than in other countries.