Decarbonizing the ceramics industry: A systematic and critical review of policy options, developments and sociotechnical systems

Dylan D. Furszyfer Del Rio*, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Aoife M. Foley, Steve Griffiths, Morgan Bazilian, Jinsoo Kim, David Rooney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)
559 Downloads (Pure)


Ceramics are considered one of the greatest and earliest most useful successes of humankind. However, ceramics can be highly damaging to natural and social systems during their lifecycle, from material extraction to waste handling. For example, each year in the EU, the manufacture of ceramics (e.g., refractories, wall and floor tiles and bricks and roof tile) emit 19 Mt CO2, while globally, bricks manufacturing is responsible for 2.7% of carbon emissions annually. This critical and systematic review seeks to identify alternatives to mitigate the climate effects of ceramics products and processes to make their lifecycle more sustainable. This article reviews 324 studies to answer the following questions: what are the main determinants of energy and carbon emissions emerging from the ceramics industry? What benefits will this industry amass from adopting more low-carbon processes in manufacturing their products, and what barriers will need to be tackled? We employ a sociotechnical approach to answer these questions, identify barriers to decarbonise the ceramics industry, and present promising avenues for future research. In doing so, we show that environmental and energy challenges associated with the ceramics industry are not just limited to the manufacturing stage but also relate to the extraction of raw materials, waste disposal, and landfilling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112081
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date02 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge that this work was supported by the UKRI ISCF Industrial Challenge within the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) award number: EP/V027050/1 . The authors also acknowledge The Bryden Centre project that is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme , managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The authors would also like to thank the three anonumous peer reviewers for their thoughtful comments and efforts towards improving our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Ceramic processes
  • Ceramics
  • Ceramics manufacturing
  • Climate change
  • Climate mitigation
  • Energy policy
  • Industrial decarbonization
  • Innovation
  • Net-zero
  • Sustainability transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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