The Constructor

Producing Bricks from Recycled Waste Clay

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The biggest negative impact of the construction industry on the environment is air pollution caused due to burning of fossil fuels like coal, gas, and diesel. Every construction project results in the emission of carbon dioxide, methane, and other harmful gases that pollute the air and contribute to global warming.

Bricks are the building blocks of most construction projects, and brick kilns release more than 1,072 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, which is about 2.7% of total CO2 emissions.

Image Courtesy: Teeside University

To fight global warming, many countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emission by cutting down the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Teesside-based Scott Bros has taken a major step in this direction by producing bricks from recycled waste clay.

The recycled waste clay, known as filter cake, is a by-product of the company's wash plant that converts excavation and construction wastes into sand and aggregates. The filter cake is considered useless and is used as BS-certified pond lining clay or inert engineering landfill.

The company had been looking for a binding agent to perfect the brick and recycle the waste clay for a long time. Now that it has produced three prototype bricks, the company needs to continue the research for lowering the production costs in order to make the bricks commercially feasible.

For the project, the company set up its own laboratory in early 2021 and employed Teesside University graduate Feysal Shifa as a recycling innovation engineer for the project.

After the initial success of producing three prototype bricks from the waste clay of its €1 m wash plant, the company is now investing €4 million in its much larger wash plant, which can handle 50 million tonnes of inert material per hour in South Bank, Middlesbrough, next to its Teesside plant.

Bob Borthwick, a director of Scott Bros., said that a major UK housebuilder and an Australian organization involved in recycling materials have shown interest in trials of the prototypes.

The company's next move will be towards lowering the production costs, which will help in creating jobs and revenue generation. The recycling of wastes will further enhance the circular economy.

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