To manufacture bricks workers move dried slabs of clay by hand into the kilns, where they burn for a couple of days in temperatures reaching up to 650°C. To maintain such heat, the kilns need to stay fired, and workers burn fuel – in some instances a mix of garment waste and wood – around the clock.
Often associated with plumes of black, choking smoke, the incineration of garment waste, which commonly contains toxic chemicals, endangers the health of vulnerable kiln workers. Reported health impacts include coughs, colds, flus, nose bleeds and lung inflammation.
It is also exacerbating the carbon footprint of clothes destined for Europe and the US, despite commitments to cut emissions from clothing manufacturers.