Building a Sustainable Brick Industry

The use of clay-baked bricks is a traditional construction method in Vietnam. However clay-baked bricks destroy agricultural land, consume large amounts of fuel and harm the environment. The use of non-baked materials not only helps avoid these disadvantages but is also an eco-friendly product which uses recycled industrial waste, turning them into building materials.

Recently, the use of non-baked materials in construction has become a global trend. For example, in the UK and China, the percentage of non-baked materials in building material accounts for 55-60 percent of construction. However, in Vietnam, this figure is only 8-8.5 percent.


Pham Xuan Bac, the deputy director of the Department of Building Materials under the Ministry of Construction, said that over the past five years, demand for building materials has increased on average by 10-12 percent per year. According to the plan on building material development, 32 billion bricks will be used in 2015 and 42 billion bricks be used in 2020 that will be equal to 60-64 million cu.m of clay and 3,200ha of agricultural land. It requires six million tonnes of coal to bake these bricks which emits 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Non-baked brick is made from industrial refuse such as ash and cinder of thermal power stations and metallurgy factories, quarry fines in building stone exploiting mines and red mud from bauxite factories. Statistics shows that from 2015 to 2020, 50-60 million tonnes of waste matter are discharged which can cause serious harm to the environment. However, with this amount of waste matter, 40 billion bricks could be produced.

In addition, non-baked building materials are much slighter than other kinds of materials that can help reduce base expenditure. Therefore, non-baked materials are very suitable for construction works in weak land areas.


In Vietnam, the government already set the target of 20 percent of non-baked materials in building materials to be used in 2005 and 30 percent in 2010. However, in reality, non-baked material productivity is very low. In 2009, the percentage of non-baked materials in building materials was about 8-8.5 percent. PhD Tran Van Huynh, the chairman of the Vietnam Association for Building Materials, explained that using clay-baked bricks is traditional and is suited to small-sized production. Non-baked bricks which are much bigger create difficulties when transported and used. Construction works built with non-baked bricks require complicated building procedures and skillful workers.

Another reason is insufficient policies for non-baked materials. The lack of policies on the use and production of non-baked materials, construction standards and prices for these kinds of materials have created difficulties for consultants, designers and architects to use them.

In addition, another disadvantage of non-baked materials is their high price. Bricks which are produced by vertical kilns are much cheaper thanks to using agricultural land without paying tax. Domestic construction investors are used to using these bricks. They are not aware of the great advantages of non-baked bricks. At present, most construction works using non-baked materials belong to foreign investors.


Decision 567/QD-TTg on the development program for non-baked building materials was signed on April 28, 2010 by the Prime Minister. According to the program, Vietnam is striving to use 23-25 percent of non-baked materials in 2015 and 30-40 percent in 2020. From 2011, construction works which have more than nine floors must use at least 30 percent of slight non-baked materials and amount of non-baked material must be below 1,000kg per cu.m.

According to Tran Van Huynh, to realize the target of using 40 percent of non-baked materials which is equal to 16.8 billion bricks, we have to produce 1.6 billion bricks every year. The government should invest in non-baked production based on material resources and consumer demand and taste. In addition, the government should create favorable conditions for investors to use and produce non-baked materials such as lower taxes, preferential loans and other preferential policies. In order to protect agricultural land, each province should have land budgets for producing brick. The government should impose high taxes on clay consumption and increase the percentage of using clay hollow bricks to 80 percent.

In terms of science and technology, Vietnam should apply advanced technology in producing non-baked materials in order to utilize all industrial waste and invest in domestic mechanical development to produce equipments which serve non-baked materials production.

Vietnam government should perfect policies, standards, procedures and guidelines on using non-baked materials in construction. These policies help to improve people’s awareness of non-baked materials and encourage investors to use them.

Propaganda activities should be strengthened in order for all appropriate authorities, businesses and people to acknowledge the advantages of using non-baked materials and disadvantages associated with the unplanned use of clay to produce bricks, making a huge contribution to the sustainable development of Vietnam’s building material sector. – VEN

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