Despite the availability of clean technology, the majority of the 1,500 billion bricks used each year are produced using polluting kilns.

Traditional brick production methods, in which clay bricks are fired using coal, wood or other biomass materials, are still commonly found in parts of Asia and Latin America. These methods are inefficient, requiring a lot of energy and top soil, and pose an important threat to health and the environment through the large amounts of particulate matter, black carbon, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants they release into the atmosphere.

Brick kiln emissions

The mitigation potential in the sector is significant, with recent estimates showing that switching to more efficient technologies, mainly during brick firing, can reduce pollutant emissions by more than 90% (IIASA GAINS, 2017), depending on the process, scale, and fuel used. These technologies would also bring additional social and economic benefits to brick producers and their communities, including safer working conditions, increased productivity, and improved agricultural yield.

Cleaning up traditional brick production methods requires regional and international coordination as well as greater awareness about the challenges specific to the sector. In 2012, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition launched its Bricks Initiative to support the modernisation of the brick sector, making kilns cleaner and more sustainable, while contributing to local economic development, improved health, and better working conditions.

Coalition partners are working to:

  • Consolidate the state of knowledge on science, technology and policy in the brick sector through global and regional expert groups
  • Strengthen the local technical innovation capacity of producers and other actors in the sector
  • Engage and advise policy makers to promote policy reform to modernize the sector

Top facts

1,500 billion bricks are produced around the world each year, with 90% of production concentrated in China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Bangladesh
The brick sector is an important source of employment in Latin America, where there are approximately 45,000 producers
Brick kilns are recognized as one of the largest stationary sources of black carbon which, along with iron and steel production, contributes 20% of total black carbon emissions



The Coalition’s Bricks Initiative is the only initiative of brick producers, experts, and public policy officials working together to reduce contamination from traditional brick production with the co-benefits of improved health, social, economic and labour conditions, reduced informality, and a general increase in the quality of life for workers and local communities residing at or near traditional brick kilns.

To achieve its objectives, the initiative provides:

  • Training to build capacity of brick producers on the use of cleaner fuels and technologies
  • Support to policy makers on the development and implementation of comprehensive policies to modernize the sector
  • Emission Measurement Guidelines and Protocols in support of better local and regional data collection from brick kilns
  • Cross-regional sector data, policy and technology portfolios, and country market studies


Location of activities

  • Asia and the Pacific
    • Bangladesh

Description of activities

Workstream | Bricks
A greater understanding of the brick sector’s pollution and climate impacts is needed in order to address black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions. The Coalition...
Black carbon measurements
Workstream | Bricks
The Coalition provides training to brick kiln entrepreneurs, policy makers and implementers, and key consumers to facilitate the adoption of modern kiln technologies and practices. In many developing...
Bricks field training in Pakistan
Workstream | Bricks
The Coalition’s Policy Advocacy Network (PAN) on Clean Brick Production brings together experts and public officials to facilitate the exchange of tools, best practice, and advisory assistance...
Traditional brick kiln
Activity | Bricks, Finance
Bangladesh | Ongoing
Brick manufacturing is an important business sector in Bangladesh. There are an estimated 7,000 brick kilns throughout the country, which contribute 1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and provide...
Brick kiln in Bangladesh


The initiative has produced knowledge tools, pulicy guidance tools, brick kiln emission and efficiency standard protocols, and economic analyses to support a transition toward cleaner brick production.

5-year milestones:

  • Coalition support to Nepal following the 2015 earthquake has seen improved kilns with a 60% decrease in particulate matter and a 40-50% reduction in coal consumption
  • Established expert groups in South Asia and Latin America to improve production efficiency
  • Real-world black carbon emissions monitoring carried in India, Nepal, and Colombia
  • Practice change in Latin America and South Asia have led to reduction in black carbon emissions and increased revenue for producers
  • Policy guidance tools, information products, economic analysis, and brick kiln emission and efficiency standard measurement protocols produced

Next event

Initiative contacts

Catalina Etcheverry,
Agriculture & Bricks Initiative Coordinator
Catalina.Etcheverry [at] un.org

Pollutants (SLCP)


Lead Partner: A Coalition partner with an active role in coordinating, monitoring and guiding the work of an initiative.

Implementer: A Coalition partner or actor receiving Coalition funds to implement an activity or initiative.

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Partners (10)

Actors (11)


2012 | Reports, Case Studies & Assessments
Greentech Knowledge Solutions, Enzen Global Solutions, University of Illinois, Clean Air Task Force, Entec AG.

This report assesses the environmental, energy and financial performance of brick production in India. Drawing on this assessment, it provides short-term recommendations to improve brick kiln...

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