Sustainable community development is seldom a focal point for a ceramic factory operating in underdeveloped areas of Brazil, but one ceramic facility has found a way to reprioritize this initiative, while managing to increase productivity and reduce its negative impact on the environment.
Situated in Crato, a city located in the state of Ceará, northeast Brazil, the ceramic facility Gomes de Mattos (CGM) produces products such as bricks and roof tiles for the local construction industry. In 2008, CGM partnered with Sustainable Carbon to stop using native forest wood as an energy source to fire its kilns and instead use renewable biomass – a more sustainable approach to production resulting in the creation of environmental commodities called carbon credits.
When asked about the motive for agreeing to such a project, Stephenson Ramalho de Lacerda, Forest Engineer at CGM said, “The ceramic sector always received pressure from society for having a lot of [negative] impact on the environment”.
“We saw the project as a way to reduce our environmental impact, and to improve energy efficiency [of the facility]. In this way, we tried to change the negative vision of the ceramic sector, while making socio-environmental improvements in the region”.
Before the project activity, CGM utilized approximately 22,800m³ of native wood annually to fire its kilns. This production system was directly contributing to the destruction of the fragile Caatinga ecosystem – an exclusively Brazilian biome that occupies around 10% of the country’s territory. Although being rich in natural resources, the Caatinga is one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. This critical biome faces a strong threat of desertification and its deforestation increases this possibility. Furthermore, the loss of natural vegetation experienced, is leading to a change in the river flow, increasing the scarcity of water supply for local communities and farming.
By committing to the project, CGM is now contributing to the preservation of the Caatinga, managing to reduce its carbon emissions and invest revenue from the sale of the resulting carbon credits into sustainable, socio-economic development for the surrounding community.
To further compensate for its impact on the fragile Brazilian environment, CGM has become the first facility in the Brazilian ceramic industry to partner up with a GeoPark – an ecological territory with defined boundaries, which contains sites of high scientific value. As a partner of Araripe, the first GeoPark of the Americas, CGM provides financial support and educational tours for students and visitors of the park. Such a partnership represents a quality stamp for companies which collaborate for the sustainable development of the region.
Besides affecting the owners’ attitude towards prioritizing environmental protection, CGM invests in education programs, provides medical support, and sponsors recreational events for community members. CGM coordinates regular visits from educational institutions in the area, and organizes community events where doctors, dentists, and beauticians are connected with people who don’t have the means or access to such services. CGM also sponsors a local soccer team for employees to have a chance to compete in local championships.
“Being ecological is profitable” says Ronaldo Gomes de Matos, the owner of Ceramica CGM.
“Everything that we reinvest is coming from the carbon credit sales…we had return from everything we invested [in the project]”.
Matos’ comment suggests that an emission reduction project can actually bring additional benefits to employees and the surrounding community while keeping stakeholders satisfied and ensuring continued investment in sustainable development of the project area.
For more information or questions about Sustainable Carbon, or the renewable biomass fuel-switching project at Ceramica Gomes de Mattos, please contact Larissa Tega Fonseca at email@example.com or visit our Projects Page at www.sustainablecarbon.com/Projects