Baseline study of the Paraguayan brick production sector
Research output: Thesis › Master's Thesis
In 2014, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) of the United Nations’ Environmental Program launched the Policy Advocacy Network for Latin America on Clean Brick Production (PAN LAC). Paraguay participates in the PAN LAC, but lacks reliable baseline data about the extent of its brick production sector. Field investigations of the author in 2017 reveal for the first time the considerable size of the brick industry of Paraguay, but also the invisibility and the high degree of informality prevalent in the sector. In total, the baseline study identified 1,631 artisanal producers that mold solid bricks by hand as well as 332 mechanized producers with at least a basic extruder or electric press incorporated in their production process. These brick manufacturers own 2,190 intermittent kilns with mostly open structures, but also 31 highly productive semi-/continuous kilns that already account for 42 percent of the annual red brick output. However, most brick producers source their raw material without a license, operate without the required environmental impact assessment, and ignore regulations. Thin clay deposits are extracted inefficiently, without mine planning and reclamation, resulting in high raw material costs and large devastated areas. The widely spread traditional kiln technologies are inefficient and artisanal production processes lead not only to unstandardized and low quality ceramic products but also to significant emissions of greenhouse gases, negatively affecting climate and health. As the number of reforestation projects is limited and no other economic viable substitute, such as mineral coal or natural gas, is available, are most combustibles originating from illegally clear-cut native forests. While the situation of the brick sector is precarious, there is strong evidence that with systematic governmental, financial and technological assistance, mitigation of the negative effects is possible, while simultaneously improving the sector’s social, economic and environmental performance. Findings, proposed strategies and suggestions were presented at the 3rd PAN LAC Forum in Mexico and validated in discussion with international brick production experts.