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Cover Image: Pathways to Efficiency in the South Asia Brick-Making Industry

Pathways to Efficiency in the South Asia Brick-Making Industry

Executive Summary

Asia produces approximately 1.2 trillion bricks per year (Heierli & Maithel, 2008). The global brick industry is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions. This does not include any of the other inputs used during the brick production process or the diesel required to transport the bricks. Just from the coal consumed, the brick industry in the top five Asian brick-producing countries emits 1.2% of total global anthropogenic CO 2 emissions.1 Brick kilns are significant emitters of black carbon, which is known to contribute to climate change and local health problems. Black carbon and suspended particulate matter (SPM) are the second-largest contributors to global
warming after CO 2. More than 2.4 million premature deaths can be attributed to black carbon every year (Baron et al., 2009).

Significant emissions reductions can be achieved through a portfolio of solutions, specifically kiln switching, improved firing processes and dissemination of resource efficient bricks (REBs). Despite the challenges of scaling-up emissions-reducing technology, this report identifies a series of opportunities for energy investment, knowledge sharing and potential partnerships in the brick industry.

Brickmaking Process
In Asia, brickmaking is both energy and Labor intensive. The kiln technologies used can be divided into intermittent and continuous kiln types. Clamp kilns are the most commonly used in South Asia and are the most energy intensive. Bull’s trench kilns are the primary kiln technology used by large-scale manufacturers. Vertical shaft brick kilns (VSBKs) are the most energy-efficient kiln technology but have not been widely adopted throughout South Asia.

Emissions Profile
The brick industry in Asia produces more than 1.2 trillion bricks per year. The largest brick manufacturers are China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam. The brick sector also emits large volumes of black carbon and other suspended particulate matter (SPM). For example, India’s brick sector is the third-largest industrial user of coal.

Market Analysis
The two largest brick producing countries in Asia are China and India. Given their market size, these nations have the greatest emissions reduction potential. However, the Asian brick industry is particularly resistant to change because of four interconnected factors: Labor patterns, brick quality, government regulation and land ownership rights.

Reducing Emissions
Three different strategies for emissions reductions are analysed: switching kiln technologies, improving firing practices and utilising REBs.

Investment Opportunities
Fuel-efficient brick kiln technologies, such as VSBK, can generate high rates of return through fuel cost savings and additional revenue through participation in carbon offset credit markets. Other technologies such as changes in firing practices and REBs also have the potential to provide financial and environmental returns.

Challenges and Solutions to Reducing Emissions
There are four primary barriers to the wider use of more efficient kilns, firing process improvements and dissemination of REB technologies: informational, financial, social and institutional. The interplay of these barriers has prevented the adoption of energy-efficient technologies. Emissions reduction in the brick sector requires not only innovative financial solutions but also broad-based stakeholder engagement, both internationally and domestically.

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