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  HOME | Mexico

Latin America Brickmakers Innovating to Reduce Pollution

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Brick producers in Latin America are adopting more environmentally friendly technologies to modernize their manufacturing procedures and reduce the emission of pollutants.

Brazil and Colombia “are the countries that have incorporated the most clean technologies and improved regulations in the sector,” John Bickel, the representative of Swisscontact, a non-profit foundation that pushes for economic, social and environmental development in Latin America, told EFE.

Bickel – who this week participated in a regional forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, to design strategies for the brickmaking sector – emphasized the need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the brick production process, which uses a considerable amount of fossil fuels.

According to figures compiled by the Swiss organization, local brickmakers make between 30 percent and 50 percent of the bricks turned out in every country in Latin America. The micro-businesses use ovens and furnaces that burn wood, guano, vegetable waste, tires, petroleum, gasoline, natural gas, sawdust and coal.

Since 2010, Swisscontact has been pushing an energy efficiency program in nine cities that are key centers for Latin America’s brickmaking sector to alleviate the problem of climate change.

Some of the technologies being employed to reduce the emissions are ventilators that reduce the number of hours of furnace operation required to cook the bricks, as well as improved ovens that save energy and fuel.

The effort is helping to reduce the more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide produced in the nine cities – in eight different countries – during the first phase of the production process, said Bickel, adding that the adaptations are leading to greater energy efficiency.

The improvements, he said, include not only new tools and equipment but also changes in the selection of raw materials to make the bricks, adding that the sector could also take advantage of recycled materials to reduce the pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.

The technological innovations are also bringing health and economic benefits for the small producers, and the goal is not only to reduce emissions but also to increase producers’ income.

“They need money to invest,” Bickel said.

 

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