Sustainable plasterboard innovation to go global


A Stonehouse-based company established after its founder, a builder, wanted to drastically reduce the amount of gypsum plasterboard being thrown into a skip, is now producing bio composite materials that outperform conventional construction products, and it now plans to take its innovation global. 

The new materials also improve indoor air quality, lower energy demand and reduce environmental impact.

Adaptavate is a start-up business. Speaking to Business & Innovation Magazine in 2018, company founder Tom Robinson said:  “Skips full of plasterboard were costing us money to get rid of. Gypsum is also dwindling resource as it comes either from the ground or from coal fired power stations which are closing as the world increasingly adopts sustainable energy policies. I realised there was a challenge, and where there’s a challenge there’s an opportunity.”

He studied for a Master’s degree in sustainable architecture and part of his final thesis focussed on breathability in buildings, a topic he now feels passionately about.

“We are designing low-carbon construction products for healthy buildings and inhabitants which help ensure the longevity of our fragile ecosystem while performing better than market leading products.”

Adaptavate’s Breathaboard is a more renewable, lower carbon alternative to plasterboard, which is the third most widely used building material on the planet. Gypsum is closely coupled to the production and burning of coal, which is being phased out, with plasterboard directly responsible for more than 3% of the UK CO2 emissions.

Adaptavate then collaborated with the University of Bath to launch Breathaplasta in 2016. Breathaplasta is an internal wall plaster that is highly breathable, reduces condensation and mould growth and absorbs indoor air pollutants. Breathaplasta is now supplied throughout the UK and Europe to a market with a surging demand for products that support health and wellbeing in the home and workplace.

Adaptavate is now seeking to launch Breathaboard internationally. To achieve this the company sought the assistance of the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) – a programme partnered with the University of Bath and funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This programme enabled access to business consultancy support to help bring the innovative bio-based board to market, as well as cultivate exciting new research collaborations with the University of Bath to help with future product development.

Working closely with the University of Bath was Adaptavate Technical Director, Jeff Ive, who said: “The STBAH programme has been extremely helpful to Adaptavate, both from technical and commercial perspectives. The programme helped facilitate the collaboration with the University of Bath to research the development of this specific product, developing the Science; the potential commercial applications are genuinely exciting. I’m delighted that Adaptavate waill be continuing to collaborate with Dr S Gebhard on this project and on other product developments we have in the pipeline. For any start-up or SME the free business support available through the STBAH is extremely useful and for us the links with the University of Bath have been an invaluable part of the process. This initial feasibility study indicates that there may be new ways to work with nature to fundamentally alter the material flows in the built environment. This is the reason our company exists and is what motivates us to get out of bed each morning”.