A cleaner brick industry brings multiple benefits and helps the country meet its climate targets
Within a period of 24 months, Pakistan – the third largest brick producer in Asia after China and India – upgraded 600 of its brick kilns to the energy-efficient zig-zag technology. This conversion prevented an estimated 228,905 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere in 2019 alone. Two hundred more kilns are now in the process of conversion.
The brick industry accounts for a staggering 20–25% of global air pollution and is a significant cause of global warming. A cleaner industry brings multiple benefits – cleaner air and healthier ecosystems, improved brick production practices and productivity, and better working conditions.
Zig-zag technology reduces coal consumption by 20%, and produces cost-efficient, better-quality bricks with significantly lower emissions. The technology has gained popularity among brick kiln owners in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and now Pakistan.
Efforts to scale up technological successes from Nepal to Pakistan’s brick industry, which is 10 times larger, started in earnest in 2018. We facilitated peer-to-peer trainings to 1360 Pakistani brick entrepreneurs, supervisors, and workers in Lahore, Multan, Islamabad, and Faisalabad. Intensive sessions enabled effective skills transfer on kiln construction and operation, including zig-zag loading as well as firing practices, and also on improved design.
The skills and knowledge transfer was enabled through partners such as the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries; the Brick Owners Association of Pakistan; the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan; and MinErgy. Following multiple trainings, the Government of Pakistan recognized the technology’s potential for improving air and soil quality. It has now restricted construction of conventional kilns, issued directives permitting only zig-zag kilns to operate in the peak winter smog period, and approved a 6% subsidized loan for conversions to or construction of zig-zag kilns. These interventions have supported Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contributions and its efforts at achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As the Pakistani government’s attitude towards the industry has improved, so has entrepreneurs’ attitude towards the technology. These interventions are expected to help rebrand the sector as socially and environmentally responsible, and deliver better returns for all involved. We expect to take these successes and cleaner brick production technologies to other South Asian countries through the Federation of Asia Brick Kiln Associations.
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