Auto bricks industry: Green Bangladesh -The Asian Age

At present brick is one of the most extensively used construction and building materials in our country. With present rate of economic growth, the brick manufacturing industry is likely to expand at about 8% per year. According to Bangladesh Brick Manufacturing Owners Association (BBMOA), there are approximately 6,000 brickfields that manufacture bricks of different grades in the country.

Existing inefficient-technology based brick manufacturing kilns burn about 6.0 million tons of coal and emit about 9.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. Besides this major peril, it similarly impedes forests (by using land and wood), agricultural land and other flora and fauna of our country, but, despite the downbeat force, we cannot really disregard the significance of bricks rather we should spotlight on more energy competent and cleaner technology for brick manufacturing.

As a government-focused initiative, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) issued a directive on July 2012, announcing deferral of renewal of licenses of Fixed Chimney kilns (FCKs) after September 2013 eying on promoting energy-efficient brick kilns in Bangladesh. In 2013 the Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act has was passed to have power over brick manufacturing and brick kiln establishment for the interest of preservation and development of environment and biodiversity.

This Act came into force from 1st July 2014, and permits two years' time limit to convert the brick kilns into modern technology and reposition thereof demonstrating regulatory ban on FCK from 1st July, 2016. In this situation, it has become crucial to aid the conversion of environment friendly and energy efficient brick manufacturing industry in Bangladesh.

The uninterrupted economic succession of the country is being fuelled by the growth in infrastructure and construction sectors. As a result, the countrywide demand for bricks in seeing significant growth. Different government departments like Roads and Highways Department, Publics Works department etc. are the largest consumers of these bricks (around 60%). The remaining 40% is being used mainly by the construction sector.

The brick sector in our nation is dominated by conventional brick kilns, mainly FCKs that are highly polluted. As a result, this industry is by far the biggest polluters in our country, even surpassing exhaust from motor vehicles. The brick manufacturing industry produces about 9.8 million tons of CO2 per year. However, the situation can be better. The incompetent technologies used by conventional kilns are the main wrongdoer behind this ecological catastrophe. These need to be replaced by up to date plants that are already being used in other parts of the world. 

The traditional kilns will not obtain any licenses in the future, and as a result, modern technologies like Tunnel Kiln used by other Auto Bricks Industries will be the way forward. Moreover, because of elevated demand of the public sector accompanied with focal point on energy efficient technology, it expected that this sector would find enough demand that will make the sector viable.

Brick is the predominant building material in urban areas In Bangladesh. In the pastoral areas, it has become a noteworthy substance even. High price and dearth of alternative building material such as stones, iron sheets, wood, bamboo and straw, are increasing the demand for bricks at a very high and at the same time promising rate. Brick manufacturers are burgeoning all over the country with heavy concentrations at the outskirts of urban areas to meet up the increasing demand.

Brick production is a very fundamental and momentous economic doings in Bangladesh since it is a developing country with high construction sector growth. The brick-manufacturing sector of Bangladesh contributes about 1% of gross domestic product and generates employment for about 750,000 people.

The brick sector has grown rapidly in the last decade, led by continuous economic expansion since the 1990s and the subsequent construction boom. In spite of being a critical sector for the country, this sector is not formally recognized as an industry.  The country's overwhelming dependence on bricks is due to paucity of suitable alternative building materials to local weather at comparable cost.

In Bangladesh, there are no standards in producing bricks even though a national standard exists.  For example, while the standard size of bricks in Bangladesh is 240 mmx 115 mm x 70 mm, actual size varies from 225 to 250 mm long, 115 to 125 mm wide 65 to 75 mm thick.  Most of the bricks are still hand molded. Mechanical equipment driven by ox or mechanical power is usually used to mix the clay.  Bricks are dried in open air.

There are evidences to indicate that there is a large gap between demand and supply of bricks in Bangladesh and that the gap continues from year to year. A large part of this gap is filled by unregistered fields, which appear one year only to disappear the next. It is estimated that about 27% of the brick demand is met by these unauthorized manual brickfield. This conclusion is also apparent from the fact that demand for bricks has been growing steadily at about 8% each year.

Furthermore, Government of Bangladesh may assist brick sector by undertaking comprehensive programs so as to make it cleaner and more profitable. Financial institutions can play a key role in this sector through financing. For encouraging eco-friendly, brick sector incentives can be a best toolto make the sector viable. In this connection, we have a potentiality of this sector to fly and flourish towards progress and contribute our infrastructural development of the country.

As an emerging economy in south-asia, we must emphasize on our infrastructural development where bricks is the key material thereto. Despite our limitations, we may put our best through innovative technology in this sector like Tunnel Kiln Technology to flourish this promising sector with a hope towards greener world, which is our long-cherished dream.  

The writers are bankers