The Government is urging construction companies to use unbaked bricks in place of traditional bricks, the production of which cuts into agricultural land and pollutes the environment.

Baking one billion bricks required 1.5 million cubic metres of land, according to Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam, who said 22 billion bricks were baked each year and the number would reach 40 billion by 2020.

However, construction sector experts said customers would not accept new materials until government agencies ensured the quality of unbaked bricks.

Tran Duy Phuc, Director of Thanh Phuc Construction Material Company in Hai Phong, said that unbaked bricks were more durable and water-resistant than baked bricks, in addition to being 20 to 30 percent cheaper and significantly easier to produce.

However, his company sold only 30 percent of the billion bricks it produced this year to building projects in Hai Phong and neighbouring areas.

Deputy Director of the Building Materials Department Pham Van Bac said the Ministry of Construction had issued a circular on using baked and unbaked bricks in building projects.

Under the circular, construction projects can use only unbaked bricks for building projects in cities ranking third tier or above, while using unbaked bricks for 50 percent of building projects in lower-tier cities by the end of 2015 and for all of construction from 2016 onwards. Buildings with nine or more storeys must be built with at least 50 percent green materials.

The circular also encourages local producers to break down their brick kilns to improve the quality of construction and protect the environment since they had gained large profits due to low environment taxes and low input and labour costs.

He added that the Government should issue specific regulations to control the exploitation of clay, raise environment taxes and help local authorities shut down brick kilns.-VNA