Sustainability is a concept and concern high on everyone’s agenda, and exceeds the view of simply investigating areas of production by reducing consumption and pollution. In evaluating the sustainability of clay paving, the whole environmental influence not only encompasses the impact of the production method, the delivery of the product to site, but also the durability of both the product and service life of the scheme and finally the product’s complete life cycle.
The perception of sustainability suggests high quality durable clay pavers, having a long service life and incorporated within a high quality adequately designed scheme, delivers negligible environmental impact by providing a good ratio of the energy, water and raw material consumption needed for the production clay paving over its expected lifetime.
Chelmer Valley Brick works together with production units across Europe to develop and promote an extensive range of clay pavers attaining the highest standards with a range of sizes, colours and textures complying with the current British and European Standards using the latest modern manufacturing processes.
- Non fade colours
Synthetic products such as coloured pigments are not used in any part of the manufacturing process. Materials are quarried close to the surface in selected natural mineral deposits giving rise to various fired colours depending on the clay involved. Manganese oxide and iron oxide are used to achieve certain hues, with glazes and engobes also used in order to achieve certain shades. As the firing temperature exceeds 1100 degrees centigrade fusing the colour throughout the paver, clay pavers will not fade.
Length of service exceeds 125 years
Whilst there is evidence of clay paving being used around 4,000BC in the Middle East, historically clay paving in the UK can be traced back to the 15th Century and more recently during the Industrial Revolution. Footways, in particular and towpaths associated with the canals and waterways in the Midlands, an area once synonymous with brick manufacturing, clay paving can still be seen to be performing today. Furthermore, there is a rich history of clay paving on the Continent, particularly in the Netherlands, where clay paved areas supplied some 150 years ago are still in use.
Chelmer Valley clay pavers consist of specific clays and sands fired at higher temperatures, providing excellent qualities and durability resisting frost, provide excellent transverse strength, abrasion resistance and resistance to chemicals typically associated with hard landscaping situations such as road salts etc. Clay paving does not polish under intensive use and retains its slip/skid resistance.
This long service life plays a significant role in defining the sustainability of clay paving. The natural resources used in the production of new clay paving products are conserved by ranging its original environmental impact over this extended period of time.
Clay paving’s non fade ability and their aptitude to weather naturally, together with their high resistance to abrasion and ease for dismantling, makes clay paving particularly suitable for re-use. In the Netherlands, where there is a greater history of clay paving, it is reported that up to 90% of installed clay pavers are re-used for paving schemes and large highway maintenance schemes.
Clay pavers are extremely durable with staining from oil, fuel, foodstuffs etc. easily removed. It is suggested a maintenance cleansing once a year is beneficial to sustain the ‘as new’ look.
As Chelmer Valley Brick provide an extensive range of pavers, some being unique in their texture and size and supplied from a number of factories, each production facility aims to achieve sustainable and ecological advancements and comply with ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Certification or the European KOMO Certification together with the Benor Certification. Our Environmental responsibility ensures our objectives continue to comply with legislation and environmental regulations to improve the environmental performance, ensuring all tasks relating to these goals are integrated into environmental management system procedures.
Local extraction minimising transport
Clay, sand and water are the natural raw materials used in the production of clay pavers, the majority of which are extracted from local sources which minimises harmful emissions from transporting. Depending on the location of the factory, the clay can be either sourced on site, or taken as a waste material from other mining operations when clay is the ‘over burden’ to alternative minerals or stone quarrying.
To reduce the utilisation rate of clay pits and limit reclamation areas, raw materials released from major infrastructure projects and dredged commercial water courses are utilised to prevent soil surpluses.
Following completion of clay pit excavations, the quarried areas are returned to fertile agricultural land or re-instated as nature reserves or scenic recreational areas.
Minimising Waste – Closed System Production Process
The paver production process, known as a closed loop system, takes waste raw clay together with waste from thermal production (fired rejects) and is used in part as raw material substitute and mixed with quarried clay for the production of new products. This ensures new paver production is 100% efficient where 100% raw material = 100% brick.
Ground water/recycling of rainwater used in the production cycle circulates in a closed circuit, so not a single litre of industrial wastewater is drained away, known as a zero-discharge process.
Recycling of clay paving
Clay pavers previously supplied to projects can be taken up and cleaned to be reused. It should be noted that the remaining lifetime of the re-laid clay pavers is dependent on previous use, the climatic conditions and the professional relaying of the pavers.
In addition, clay paved surfaces previously used can be crushed, the broken paver fragments processed in specialist quality monitored companies and re-used for the production of aggregate for path and sports ground construction, provide a growing substrate for green roofing and substrates for trees and plants in gardening and landscaping.
No toxic substances are added, and because brick is an inert material it does not give off any noxious or allergenic substances and presents absolutely no danger of soil contamination.
Energy efficiency and reduction of emissions
Every effort is made for the continuous improvement of energy efficiency and reduction of energy consumption and waste. The firing process takes place in energy-efficient, modern computerised facilities using natural gas-fired energy efficient tunnel kilns, the cleanest and most environmentally friendly fuel available. A flue gas filter is used to remove particulates from the combustion gases. These combined measures result in purified emissions with many measurements falling well below the stringent standards required. Hot air recovered from the kilns is directed towards the driers and heating to the workshops and offices.
Varying methods of installing efficient renewable energy sources have been undertaken. Combined heat and power plants, such as 16-cylinder gas engines coupled to an alternator to produce electricity, have been installed at manufacturing facilities and is responsible for 50% of the required power at these factories.
An alternative method is the installation of solar panels to factories which together help to generate more power so reducing CO2 emissions contributing towards a better environment. A Guarantee of Origin Certificate also pledges that the additional electricity purchased is supplied from wind energy, hydro or solar power.
Around the production facilities transport of raw materials into the factory, together with delivery of finished product to sites, start their initial journey by road to an inland barge terminal within 25km of the factory. Finished products are sent by inland barge to the major port terminals whereupon they are loaded on to sea barges and shipped to major UK ports.
This minimises the number of journeys by road reducing not only emissions, but also congestion.
Products held in stock for the UK market are delivered in full loads by boat directly to Tilbury port, our stockyard facility specifically chosen to be within close proximity (10 miles) to reduce transport by vehicles.
Projects demanding larger volumes of product direct to site are delivered to the closest port available to the project in order to reduce transport by road and further reduce congestion. Full loads of paving are then transhipped directly to site using low emission modern vehicles.
The pavers are stacked and shrink-wrapped in recyclable PE foil with reusable wooden pallets taken back by the building trade for re-use.