About

Despite the availability of clean technology, the majority of the 1,500 billion bricks used each year are produced using polluting kilns.

Traditional brick production methods, in which clay bricks are fired using coal, wood or other biomass materials, are still commonly found in parts of Asia and Latin America. These methods are inefficient, requiring a lot of energy and top soil, and pose an important threat to health and the environment through the large amounts of particulate matter, black carbon, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants they release into the atmosphere.

Brick kiln emissions

The mitigation potential in the sector is significant, with recent estimates showing that switching to more efficient technologies, mainly during brick firing, can reduce pollutant emissions by more than 90% (IIASA GAINS, 2017), depending on the process, scale, and fuel used. These technologies would also bring additional social and economic benefits to brick producers and their communities, including safer working conditions, increased productivity, and improved agricultural yield.

Cleaning up traditional brick production methods requires regional and international coordination as well as greater awareness about the challenges specific to the sector. In 2012, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition launched its Bricks Initiative to support the modernisation of the brick sector, making kilns cleaner and more sustainable, while contributing to local economic development, improved health, and better working conditions.

Coalition partners are working to:
 

  • Consolidate the state of knowledge on science, technology and policy in the brick sector through global and regional expert groups
  • Strengthen the local technical innovation capacity of producers and other actors in the sector
  • Engage and advise policy makers to promote policy reform to modernize the sector

Top facts

1,500 billion bricks are produced around the world each year, with 90% of production concentrated in China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Bangladesh
The brick sector is an important source of employment in Latin America, where there are approximately 45,000 producers
Brick kilns are recognized as one of the largest stationary sources of black carbon which, along with iron and steel production, contributes 20% of total black carbon emissions

Factsheets

Objectives

The Coalition’s Bricks Initiative is the only initiative of brick producers, experts, and public policy officials working together to reduce contamination from traditional brick production with the co-benefits of improved health, social, economic and labour conditions, reduced informality, and a general increase in the quality of life for workers and local communities residing at or near traditional brick kilns.

To achieve its objectives, the initiative provides:
 

  • Training to build capacity of brick producers on the use of cleaner fuels and technologies
  • Support to policy makers on the development and implementation of comprehensive policies to modernize the sector
  • Emission Measurement Guidelines and Protocols in support of better local and regional data collection from brick kilns
  • Cross-regional sector data, policy and technology portfolios, and country market studies

Activities

Location of activities

  • Asia and the Pacific
    • Bangladesh
    • India
    • Nepal
    • Pakistan
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Colombia
    • Mexico
    • Uruguay

Description of activities

Workstream | Bricks
Ongoing
A greater understanding of the brick sector’s pollution and climate impacts is needed in order to address black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions. The Coalition’s...
Black carbon measurements
Workstream | Bricks
Ongoing
The Coalition provides training to brick kiln entrepreneurs, policy makers and implementers, and key consumers to facilitate the adoption of modern kiln technologies and practices. In many developing...
Bricks field training in Pakistan
Workstream | Bricks
Ongoing
The Coalition’s Policy Advocacy Network (PAN) on Clean Brick Production brings together experts and public officials to facilitate the exchange of tools, best practice, and advisory assistance, and...
Traditional brick kiln

Achievements to date

Funding from our Bricks initiative has provided learning materials, public guidance tools, brick kiln emission and efficiency standard protocols, and economic analyses to support cleaner brick production in brick producing countries. Our achievements include: 

  • Developing a model for transforming the bricks sector in Colombia that can be replicated in other countries. This involved creating a national brick kiln inventory, conducting black carbon measurements, developing a portfolio of black carbon reduction measures for an energy efficient brick sector, while maximizing social and economic benefits. 
  • Working with Corporación Ambiental Empresarial’s (CAEM), on an amendment of Colombia’s resolution 909/2008 for air emission or discharge standards for stationary (point) sources in the brick sector.   
  • Helping rebuild damaged kilns following Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, with technology that reduced particulate matter emissions by 60% and coal consumption by 40-50%. 
  • Establishing public policy and advocacy networks in South Asia and Latin America to improve production efficiency. 
  • Climate Accounting, Measurement and Analysis (CLIAMA) of black carbon emissions from kilns in India, Nepal, and Colombia 
  • Helping inform the development and adoption of brick sector regulations in Colombia, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay and Pakistan. This includes the July 2018 directive issued by the Environmental Protection Agency of Punjab Province, Pakistan that banned the operation of old and inefficient kilns and required existing kilns to be converted to cleaner zig-zag technology.  
  • Providing over 13,300 person-days of training to policymakers and kiln operators on cleaner technology and production practices. 
  • Strengthening institutions in Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nepal, Bangladesh, Argentina, Chile, Pakistan, Peru, India, and Morocco, through technical training and capacity building to address SLCP emissions from their brick sectors. 
  • 4,700 changes in brick production technologies and practices, including 1,000 retrofitted kilns in India, 100 reconstructed kilns in Nepal, and the adoption of low-emissions technology by over 3,000 brick producers in Latin America. 
  • Catalyzing over USD 7M in funding for projects in Nepal, Pakistan, Mexico and Colombia  
  • Developing brick sector strategies for Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Pakistan and Bangladesh 
  • 22 knowledge resources produced, including 16 tools & platforms 

Funding as of Oct 2020: $3,972,435 
Co-funding as of Oct 2020: Over $600,000 
Catalyzed funding as of Oct 2020: $ 99,048,195 

Initiative contacts

Catalina Etcheverry,
Agriculture & Bricks Initiative Coordinator
Catalina.Etcheverry [at] un.org

Partners

Lead Partner: A Coalition partner with an active role in coordinating, monitoring and guiding the work of an initiative.

Implementer: A Coalition partner or actor receiving Coalition funds to implement an activity or initiative.

Partners (3)

Lead
Lead

Partners (3)

Lead
Lead

Resources

2020 | Reports, Case Studies & Assessments

Energy performance and emissions were measured at seven brick kilns in Colombia in summer 2016.. Measurement results include energy consumption, brick production rate, and emissions of particulate...

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