USE-IT's RamBrick - Turning construction waste into bricks | Knowledge Hub | Circle Lab
Business case
USE-IT's RamBrick - Turning construction waste into bricks

RamBrick converts waste soil and rubble from landfill into building products with a reduced carbon footprint.


Urban development means removing many tonnes of soil and rubble, which mostly treated as waste and dumped in expensive landfill sites. Construction waste constitutes an average of 30% of all waste that goes to urban landfills. At the same time, there is a huge deficit of housing in South Africa’s urban centres where alternative construction materials can fill a gap. What if we were to start thinking of construction waste as a resource, in the same way as the packaging that is sent to landfill?


RamBrick is a compressed earth block application using waste soils from construction and development sites and crushed rubble to manufacture blocks for housing construction. The RamBrick is composed of a blended mixture of 70% waste soils, 25% crushed builders rubble and 5% cement stabilizer. They are made without water, using a hydraulic compression system to press the waste materials into blocks that are subsequently air cured, creating a very lowembodied building material (251kg CO2/ m2 compared to concrete blocks at 760kg CO2/m2). The RamBrick offers two main benefits: firstly, landfill diversion. Urban centre landfills are rapidly filling up and it makes no sense to use an expensive engineered lined landfill to store inert waste materials. Secondly, the RamBrick is highly thermally efficient, bullet-proof, sound-proof, cheaper (16% cheaper than concrete blocks and 45% cheaper than clay bricks), requires zero water in manufacturing, and has a very low embodied energy. The idea behind the RamBrick was to create new enterprises to divert waste from landfills and manufacture blocks for the gap in the housing market. RamBrick’s work has been supported through partnerships with the eThekwini Municipality (Durban), and the Development Bank of South Africa through the country’s Jobs Fund and the Green Fund.

Additional information

This case study has been created as part of Footprints Africa's work to build the first ever comprehensive mapping of circular economy initiatives in Africa. This will lay the foundation open-source database that can inspire local initiatives, as well as inform the global dialogue, which is largely focused on the European and American contexts. We are doing this in collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). ACEN's vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.

The objective is to build an open-source database featuring 500 cases by the end of 2021, with strong regional representation. These will feature in the Knowledge Hub and are also being mapped by GRID-Arendal. 

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