Environment-friendly brick factory in Munshiganj

Staff Correspondent

The country’s first environment friendly brick factory with European technology is being built beside the Dhaleswari River at Paschim Koyrakhola Village in Munshiganj. The name of the factory is "Eco Ceramics Limited". It is owned by Crown Cement and GPH Ispat Group.

The factory will produce brick from January next year. The latest tunnel clean technology of Europe will be used for the production. Concerned people think that the ceramic industry in Bangladesh will expand if the factory is launched.

The factory is being built on 25-acre land. The cost of the project has been estimated at Tk 145 crore. Everyday two lakh bricks will be made in the factory. German technology and machineries from Italy, China and Japan are being installed in the factory.

About 300 to 400 people will be employed in the factory. Besides, dealers and traders across the country will be benefited from the factory. In the meantime, some people in the neighbourhood have been employed. Two Chinese technicians were brought in. Due to lack of technicians in the country, the Chinese will train the new recruits under a deal with the company.

The concept of environment-friendly buildings, or green buildings as they are popularly known, is catching on in Bangladesh. While the green building movement has been around globally since the 1970s, it has picked up momentum in Bangladesh only in the last couple of years.

Eco-friendly bricks in the form of concrete blocks are gaining popularity in Bangladesh as a means to mitigate the environmental damage caused by conventional brick manufacturing.    

House Building Research Institute (HBRI), a component of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, has been working for over 40 years to develop a substitute for conventional bricks in the construction industry. The institute has developed 25 types of bricks without using clay-rich topsoil from arable lands. In recent years, the government has taken several initiatives to promote the use of building blocks made from alternative materials, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina  even directing government agencies to build their own structures with alternative bricks.

Researchers in Bangladesh have also started conceptualizing and developing new bricks to mitigate the environmental damage caused by brick manufacturing.

As a part of this, HBRI has been training local masons and encouraging brick kiln owners in several districts around the country to use these alternative building materials.

HBRI researchers said the main challenges are raising the awareness of people about eco-friendly bricks, as relatively few people know that these can result in both lower construction costs and reduced environmental impact.

Currently the country produces around 25 billion bricks a year. Around 60 million tonnes of topsoil are used to meet this high demand and that causes dust pollution and degrades the soil quality significantly.

Many studies show that brick kilns in and around Dhaka are responsible for a big share of the densely-populated capital's air pollution.

However, traditional brick fields also consume 5.0 million tonnes of coal and 3.0 million tonnes of wood per annum impacting the forest resources largely.

Besides, they emit 15 million tonnes of carbon into the air, according to the HBRI.

The use of the block can minimise construction cost by 30 per cent, but its key feature is it saves farmland and cuts air pollution.

The big real estate companies are also producing the key building materials on their own premises, as it needs a small piece of land and investment. It reduces the carrying cost of brick as well.

The statistics provided by the HBRI suggest more than 40 top realtors in the country have already set up their own factories for ensuring their own supplies of the building material.

The item can be made in different sizes depending on the designs of the buildings. The brick also called "hollow block", can be of 24 types.

The block is cheaper as each brick costs Tk 6.0 to produce, compared with a cost of Tk 12 for every traditional brick. But each block is bigger than the traditional brick size. It is equivalent to more than 1.5 bricks.