Analysis: Could Bangladesh’s ‘Eco-Bricks’ Do More Harm Than Good?
In Bangladesh, the mere act of breathing is hazardous. In 2017, air pollution was responsible for 14% (123,000) of total deaths. The country’s air quality has worsened since, with more than 170,000 people dying due to diseases related to air pollution in 2019.
Recognising the scale of the problem, the government is seeking to clean up one the most polluting industries: brick kilns.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is one of the world’s most polluted cities. There are more than 1,000 brick kilns in and around the city, Md Abu Bakar, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Brick Manufacturing Owners Association, told The Third Pole.
The kilns burn coal and wood to fire topsoil and create traditional clay bricks – which are in high demand as the country develops and its cities expand. The impact on the environment and human health is enormous: in 2018, Bangladesh’s brick sector burnt 7 million tonnes of coal and emitted more than 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the total CO2 emissions of Guatemala.