Greening Bangladesh’s Industry – One Brick at a Time

May 29, 2015
Policymakers and industry got together in May 2015 to look at new innovations that can transform the local brick industry and address resource efficiency and nexus issues. One new technology innovation emerged as a clear winner.

Demand for housing has been growing rapidly in Bangladesh, putting pressure on the local brick industry to produce more and more – and this is coming at a high cost to the environment. IIP organized a roundtable meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh on May 3 to work out how these environmental impacts can be avoided through greater resource efficiency and by addressing food and energy security issues.

During the discussions about new policies, technologies and financing options, it became clear that one new Indian technology for carbon-neutral brickmaking had the potential to transform the industry and improve its sustainability record.

IIP-India Director, Somnath Bhattacharjee says: “FaL-G Brick technology offers exciting potential. This climate-friendly technology produces bricks without using topsoil and coal, and completely eliminates carbon emissions.”

This is important news for Bangladesh’s brick industry – which already contributes about 1 percent to the country’s GDP and employs about 1 million people – as demand for bricks for housing is expected to increase due to a rapidly-growing local population. This will have a flow-on effect on the scarcity of topsoil as well as increase air pollution and energy demand, all of which are already taking their toll on the local environment.

It is hoped that FaL-G Brick technology could reverse this trend. The technology was invented by two Indians: Dr N. Bhanumathidas and Mr Kalidas, who gave a presentation at the roundtable meeting.

Speaking at the roundtable, Mr Md. Rais ul Alam, Director General (Secretary), Department of Environment, Government of Bangladesh, said that the “manufacture of clay bricks is becoming increasingly unviable given the spiralling costs of clay and fuel and the limited availability of agricultural land in Bangladesh. Technologies like FaL-G can help in dealing with the issue of food and energy security, while gainfully utilising fly ash, the output of which is bound to increase in Bangladesh with a number of new super critical coal based thermal power plants at different stages of commissioning.”

Dr. Sultan Ahmed, Director (Joint Secretary) of Bangladesh’s Department of Environment (DoE), said that FaL-G is a “miracle technology” but, to ensure its successful adoption and customization in Bangladesh, local brickmakers would need support over the long-term.

IIP’s principal project in Bangladesh this year will be to look at how it can best support local industry with the introduction of the new technology.

The roundtable meeting was organized in partnership with UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) under its Knowledge Partnership Program. It was attended by senior officials of the Department of Environment, the Government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh brick Manufacturers Owners Association (BBMOA) and financial institutions like Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL).

Other key presentations at the meeting included Dr B. Sengupta, Ex Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, Government of India, who explored regulatory issues associated with flyash policies for promoting non-fired bricks, and Mr Md. Shaheenur Rahman, Unit Head, Small and Medium Infrastructure, IDCOL, who gave a discourse on financing options for cleaner technologies in Bangladesh.

Panelists at a technical session on options to green Bangladesh’s brick industry. From left to right: Mr N. Kalidas, Mr Md. Shahjahan, Dr Sultan Ahmed and Dr B. Sengupta.