Eco-Friendly Brick Manufacturing
Here at Littlehampton Clay Bricks and Pavers, we take environmental responsibility very seriously. As a 100% Australian Family-owned company, making 100% Australian Made products we feel we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to not only make the best bricks and pavers, but to do so in a way that is kind to our environment and community.
We are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve our products, our processes and how those products and processes can be as green and eco-friendly as possible. In this article we will take a look at just some of the ways in which we here at Littlehampton Bricks and Pavers are making our bricks sustainably and eco-friendly.
Factory Powered by Solar Energy
Running a brick manufacturing plant -even a boutique one like ours- requires a great amount of electricity to power the various machinery throughout the manufacturing process. This is why back in February 2017 we proactively made a substantial investment into solar to cover the roof of our factory with a 344 Panel, 99.76KW solar panel array and system to power our manufacturing machinery and plant.
Kiln Fired On Recycled Waste-Oil
Firing a traditional batch kiln to over 1100 Degrees Celsius is no easy task, but to ensure the highest quality clay bricks and pavers – it’s a necessity. Kilns can be fired on various combustibles including natural gas, oil and even wood in the old days. We choose to fire our kiln exclusively on fully recycled waste-oil. We procure this recycled oil from a collection company we have a long-standing relationship with. They collect the waste-oil from various different places like service stations and mechanic workshops. They then clean and refine the waste-oil and deliver it to us. On site here at the factory we filter the oil one more time to remove any impurities before it is used to fire the kiln.
Brick Off-cuts Are Instantly Re-used
During the manufacturing process it is necessary to cut the wet bricks down to the exact sizes needed to process them through the machinery and also result in a uniform sized product. In doing so, this creates a percentage of brick off-cuts. Rather than just discarding these pieces of material, we have arranged our machinery in a way -through a series of specially designed conveyer belts- to immediately return the off-cuts back into the wet mix and be instantly re-used to make more bricks. This means no material wastage during manufacturing!
We Sort Every Brick By Hand For Quality
In the brick and paver industry there is a term known as ‘allowable wastage’. This is an allowable percentage of product delivered to site that is deemed to be unusable. The reasons for this could be broken bricks, chips, cracks, discolouration, bending, warping, misfired product etc. At Littlehampton Brick we take the very labour-intensive extra step to actually hand sort every single brick and paver from the kiln onto hard wooden pallets for delivery. During this sorting process, our qaulity-control graders are checking the products for any defects that may make the brick or paver unusable when delivered to site. If there are any of these defects present they are sorted onto separate pallets and not delivered to a building site as 1st grade product. This means that instead of having -for example- 5% wastage, our products are generally closer to 1% or below. The only damages generally happen in transport or on-site. This means that on every building site there is far less unusable product and therefor much less that ends up in land-fill etc. Not to mention the cost savings of not having to pay to remove the unusable bricks.
But what happens to the bricks which don’t make 1st grade? Glad you asked! If the bricks don’t meet our strict first-grade standards but are still structurally sound and ‘usable’ then they are sold as 2nd Grade. These second grade bricks are often used by builders for things like internal walls that are to be plastered over or for garden projects etc where the colour and finish don’t matter as much.
Broken Bricks Are Crushed and Recycled
when you make enough bricks, inevitably some will break… no matter how careful you are! Over time this small % of broken bricks is slowly accumulated into a pile in our yard. Once we have enough broken bricks, we bring in a mobile crushing plant to machine them down into small uniform sized pieces. These crushed bricks are then recycled for many different purposes like rubble as road-base, for use around gardens and can even be used to make more bricks! We make sure nothing goes to waste!
Made from Local Natural Materials
All our clay bricks are made from the highest quality, local natural materials. No additives or other nasties. Just natural clay, shales, sand, water and fire! This not only ensures a truly beautiful, quality product but also ensures the product itself is kind on the environment when in use.
The fact that our ingredients are sourced locally also means that the energy and carbon footprint used to transport them to us is incredibly low.
We Re-Use Our Pallets Over and Over Again!
Some companies treat pallets as a one-time-use commodity and simply don’t expect to see them again once they leave their yard. Not us! We custom-build our pallets from hard-wood and we paint them here in our factory. They are strong, durable, heavy and designed to be re-used many times during their life-cycle. We offer our customers a free pallet collection service to collect them locally and also offer refundable deposits for customers further away to help incentivize their safe return to us!
Clay Bricks and Pavers Last Forever!
The life-cycle of a clay brick is 100’s or possibly even 1000’s of years! Many building products have a life-cycle of only 5, 10 or 20 years but clay masonry products last forever meaning that the life-time carbon footprint is incredibly low compared with other building materials. Just look at the huge railway arches in the UK which have stood for 100’s of years in very adverse weather conditions and still look great and function perfectly today!
Re-usable – How many building products can not only be recycled but are very desirable to do so? Not many! Clay bricks however are always very sought-after as a second hand recycled item. When a building is razed containing clay bricks or a clay paver path is removed, the products find a new home very fast as they are always in fashion and popular for many designs.