Member Profile: Dakota Gypsum Supply
Reduce, reuse, recycle — it’s a phrase we’re all familiar with, and most of us do our best to decrease our waste and care for the environment.
But, one Capital Electric Cooperative member is going beyond the call of duty by transforming drywall waste into products that revitalize lawns, clean up oil spills and fulfill a need for our feline friends. Founded in 2019,
Dakota Gypsum Supply is a drywall recycling and gypsum supply company based in the Bismarck area. “I was shocked at how much waste is created through the process of drywall installation. It’s projected that 25%
to 35% of drywall becomes waste," says Austin Bitz, owner of Dakota Gypsum Supply and Hangman Drywall. "We started thinking, there’s got to be something else we can do with this waste. I didn’t even know what gypsum was at that time or what the purpose of it was.”
Gypsum, also known as calcium sulfate, is a natural product that is mined from the earth. Pressed between two thick sheets of paper, gypsum plaster is the fire resistant and sound-proofing part of drywall. But, as Bitz has come to learn, it has many more uses. Dakota Gypsum Supply carries a variety of recycled gypsum products, including DGS Floor-Dry, Cat’s Paw Eco-Friendly Litter and Ralph’s Dirt RX.
Lawn and garden care
Named after Bitz’s grandfather who loved gardening and working in the yard, Ralph’s Dirt RX is a soil amendment that helps recover soil health. Available in 50-pound bags or by the ton, Ralph’s Dirt RX comes in two varieties, Lawn & Garden and Lawn Stain Neutralizer.
“In North Dakota, we have clay and sandy soils, and most are deficient in calcium. The problem with clay is that it is automatically hard. Gypsum loosens up clay soil,” says Bitz. "Sandy soil gets compacted easily when its driven over, so the gypsum helps loosen that soil back up again and allows water to penetrate it, while also holding water in the soil. It also helps neutralize your soil’s pH and deposits calcium and sulfur, which helps with plant growth.”
Bitz says the Lawn Stain Neutralizer, which is a fine powder gypsum, is great for dog owners looking to revitalize their lawn. “I have two dogs, and I’ve noticed it really helps bring my lawn back,” says Bitz. “Dogs end up ruining lawns. They put salt into the soil and harden it. I use our product where my dogs go the bathroom, and it really helps out.”
Another fine gypsum product, DGS Floor-Dry absorbs all types of liquids. It’s sold in 40-pound bags. Each bag costs $12.
“It works a lot better than your typical floor dry, because it absorbs a lot faster, and you don’t have to use as much,” says Bitz. “You can put it directly on a spill, and you don’t have to wait very long for it to take effect. Most
of the time, you can scoop it up and throw it away in a few minutes.”
Cat’s Paw Eco-Friendly Litter, which is made of small, coarse gypsum pellets, is a cost effective alternative to traditional litter. A 40-pound bag is only $8, and Bitz says it lasts longer than most litters on the market.
Gypsum isn’t the only part of drywall that can be recycled. Keeping a focus on animals, Bitz hopes to eventually market a new product made from the drywall paper — animal bedding.
“It gives a little warmth to animals in stalls, but also works for poultry. It works for horses and cattle. We have a guy who wants to start using it for his alpacas. Most animals are able to tolerate it,” says Bitz. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
You might be wondering, where does all that drywall come from? Some of it comes from Bitz’s other business, Hangman Drywall, and the rest is donated by homeowners and other contractors. “We actually have a company in Fargo that is going to be bringing us a bunch of drywall. They’re working on a project that requires them to recycle 75% of the construction waste. They’re going to be close to recycling, probably, 50% of their actual waste once they bring all of that drywall scrap here,” says Bitz. Regardless of where it comes from, it’s easy to guess where it’s not ending up.
“We’re reducing a lot of the waste that goes into the landfill. It makes way more sense to recycle drywall and return the gypsum to the earth in a beneficial form rather than bury it as drywall, because it takes years and years to break down in that form,” says Bitz. “We’re reducing a lot of waste, and we’re doing it responsibly. We’re returning something to the earth in a responsible manner.”
So, this spring, as your getting ready for home renovations and lawn and garden care, remember to reduce, reuse and recycle, and give back to the earth that gives us so much. And, who knows? Maybe one day, your
drywall waste will help grow something beautiful. To learn more about Dakota Gypsum Supply and its product offerings, visit dakotagypsumsupply.com. If you’re a homeowner or contractor interested in donating clean
drywall waste to Dakota Gypsum Supply, contact Austin Bitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.