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24 Aug 2021 Erin

The Brickmakers' Quality Charter

On March 1st, the BDA (Brick Development Association) launched their Brickmakers' Quality Charter. The Brick Development Association is the UK's technical trade association for clay brick manufacturers and the chief authority on the production, distribution and use of clay bricks and pavers. It delivers market, technical and design advice to those who work with clay bricks.

Through regular monitoring of the UK market and brick statistics, the BDA have noticed a significant increase in the importation of clay bricks from outside the EU into the UK, most notably from Asia, and this poses a concern for many reasons;

  • Firstly, bricks from this region are typically manufactured seasonally in large numbers and use bonded or child labour more often than not. The individuals making these bricks work under extreme conditions with little or no regard for health and safety, poor sanitation, often with little or no pay, which is unacceptable in today's world.
  • Secondly, due to the distance they need to travel, the cost of transporting these bricks, often halfway around the world, is offset by cheap and often unpaid bonded labour. And, of course, transporting bricks halfway around the world increases the carbon footprint, negatively affecting climate change.

To implement policy and standards, the Brick Development Association recommend that suppliers check the origin of the bricks they purchase; however, this can prove challenging with some manufacturers and re-sellers sometimes deliberately hiding the source of their clay bricks. More than often, these negligent businesses are not transparent when explaining where their bricks are sourced and manufactured.

In instances that suppliers are not transparent or clear, the Brickmakers Quality Charter intervenes. The BDA has made an accessible tool to help you decide where to source your clay bricks. A legitimate brickmaker who has successfully matched the criteria of sourcing and selling bricks by the BDA will display the BQC logo. This certification means that manufacturers have adhered to product labour, quality, energy, and environmental standards.

Any clay brick manufacturer can apply to join the Brickmaker Quality Charter holders register. The BDA ensures that bricks are sustainable products that minimise environmental impact and human suffering for manufacturers and suppliers. Clay brick contributes to the UK's safe, healthy and sustainable built environment and is also applicable in Europe and many other nations, and it provides the certainty and longevity people want in their homes and from an established supply chain.

To conclude, the Brickmakers Quality Charter promotes the responsibility of sourcing clay brick; however, application to the Charter is not mandatory. Its primary aim is to help those looking to buy clay brick products identify brickmakers who have reached an acceptable level of best practice in business and manufacturing ethics and have attained the credentials expected of a responsible brickmaker.

To be accepted and credentialled under the BQC, companies must demonstrate their compliance with and adherence to a range of internationally recognised standards. The Brickmakers Quality Charter Logo provides architects, designers, merchants, specifiers, and procurement teams with a valuable 'shortcut' to identifying responsible clay brick manufacturers.

Applicants who are strictly clay brick manufacturers will need to provide evidence of their credentials in at least four of the following Critical Assessment Points (CAPs), two of which must include a public statement on Anti-Modern Slavery together with a Policy & Procedure that backs this up.

As well as this, they will need to prove their compliance with clay-brick products under the UK's Construction Product Regulations.

The CAPs are:

  • CAP 1. Business Quality Management System (ISO 9001)
  • CAP 2. Responsible Sourcing System (BES 6001)
  • CAP 3. Energy Management System (ISO 50001)
  • CAP 4. Environmental Management System (ISO 14001)
  • CAP 5. Health & Safety Management System (ISO 45001 or OHSAS 18001 or the BCC H&S Pledge)
  • CAP 6. Employment Practice System (that meets the brickmaker's, National Standard)
  • CAP 7. Anti-Modern Slavery Policy and Procedures* (that meets the brickmaker's, National Standard)
  • CAP 8. CPR Compliance in all Clay-rick Products* (CE Mark or UKCA/UKNI Mark to EN771.1)

There are different levels within the Brickmakers Quality Charter, depending on how many CAPs they can collect.

Level One: One Star

If a brickmaker can provide evidence against four or five CAPs, they may display the Charter's One Star logo.

Level Two: Two Stars

If a brickmaker can provide evidence against six or seven CAPs, they may display the Charter's Two Star logo.

Level Three: Three Stars

If a brickmaker can provide evidence against all eight CAPs, they may display the Charter's Three Star logo.

At Brick and Stone, we are proud supporters of the Brickmakers Quality Charter and are proud to be suppliers of Ketley Brick, Weinberger, and Ibstock, who have all achieved the Level One accreditation in the Charter. Along with Northcot Brick, who have achieved the Level Two accreditation.

For more information on the Brickmakers Quality Charter and access to more resources, visit the Brick Development Associations website.

24 Aug 2021 Erin

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