A journey toward lightness
In 2010, the USG competitor opened the way towards lightweight plasterboards in the US with their Sheetrock brand Ultralight product between 5.9 and 6.8kg/m², 25 to 30% lighter than what Saint-Gobain offered at that time. CertainTeed Gypsum responded very fast in the following year with the launch of the Easi-Lite™ product of around 7.0kg/m² for the North American market. For Saint-Gobain, it was the start of a ten years’ continuous effort to optimize the structure of plasterboards all over the world using lightweight technologies, to meet the new expectations from customers in terms of ergonomics or to save on gypsum rock additives, energy and transportation costs.
This effort was first brought to Europe in the plant of Balsta in Sweden where the production of the pioneer Gyproc ErgoLite™ product of 6.7kg/m² started in 2013. The latter product did not only present advantages in terms of ergonomics asked by customers in this region, but also a strong quality making ErgoLite™ a premium product. Next, deployment of lightweight technologies expanded to Asian countries, in particular China and Thailand, now reaching similar densities as our North American boards of 7kg/m²… Soon followed India and Brazil before deployment reached Europe again.
Today, it is now in Turkey that Saint-Gobain is continuing the journey. More precisely, in Bala plant. This time, the objective is not only to provide customers a lighter product but also participate to the Group commitment to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050, which implies a reduction of both direct manufacturing emissions and transport related emissions.
As Bala plant is located in Central Anatolia in Turkey, the transport of products to the main markets of Marmara and of the Mediterranean region has an important role in the cost and CO2 balance. From this perspective, lightening is a strong lever to minimize impact.
Therefore, Bala team started the journey towards lightness in 2018, reducing the weight of the standard board from 8.4 to 7.3kg/m², and applying the same logics to other relevant specialty products such as boards designed for wet environments. In April 2022, Bala team opened the way towards enhanced lightening with commercialized boards down to 6,2 kg/m² maintaining mechanical properties required for the European standards, even with the most aerated structure ever reached in the Group!
The team was awarded at 2022 Gypsum Operations Forum at Budapest with plate at the category of “Best Board Weight Reduction”.
Finally, the acceleration of the weight reduction in the last 2 years shows the benefits and interest for the market. Where we have minimum board weight constraints, we need to work close together with Sales and Marketing teams to bring changes in local regulation and continue pushing the development of light solutions which bring better ergonomic performance for the installer and more sustainable construction for our Planet.
Contact: Ceyda Oner