Home 5 FAQs


About the business
What's your motivation behind being a circular business?

Between 2007 and 2017, our directors, Alex and Scott, were redeveloping and restoring Craigpark Quarry in Ratho, just outside Edinburgh. They saw huge potential in the sheer volume of materials that were recovered during this process and would have otherwise gone to waste. This piqued Scott’s interest in extracting resource value from this waste and exploring a circular business model that could enable materials destined to become waste to stay in circulation and continue to be valuable to the construction industry.

Originally farmers, the Brewsters are no strangers to circular thinking. Farmers have always been resourceful, using leftover straw for animal bedding, manure to fertilise crops and organic waste produce to create compost, but the new challenge was to bring the same principals to the construction industry. Having dealt in cereals and potatoes they also had experience in bulk material processing and handling

How does your one-stop-shop work?

We take in construction, demolition and excavation waste, recycle it through our plant and extract high quality recycled aggregates. We then repurpose these aggregates back into the construction industry to be used as an alternative to virgin aggregates. You can drop-off and collect or our HGV tippers can come to your site, deliver recycled aggregate and do a ‘back load’ to pick up any construction and demolition waste. Thus creating an efficient and convenient service for our customers.

About the plant
who is the plant manufacturer?

CDE Global is the world’s largest manufacturer of wet processing equipment. Their mission is to create equipment that diverts waste from landfill and creates products that can be reused in construction projects. We have developed an excellent partnership with CDE Global because of our shared goals and values. Using our shared knowledge and resources to develop new circular solutions.

how does it work?

We use our wet-processing system to extract valuable resources from construction, demolition and excavation waste.

  1. Waste is fed into the recycling plant.
  2. As the waste moves through the plant, oversized materials (larger than 100mm) are removed first, then any metals are extracted using overband magnets
  3. All the remaining material is given an initial rinse
  4. The rinsed materials are then separated into a >4mm solid fraction (gravel), and a <4mm fine fraction solution (sand, silt/clay aggregates).
  5. The coarse fraction moves through the logwasher, where it is thoroughly scrubbed by an attritional process, has any trash content (metals, plastic and organics) removed and is then graded to create our 3 different gravel products.
  6. The fine fraction solution moves through hydrocyclones where the ‘heavy’ sand is separated by density from the lighter silt and clay.
  7. The sand is then dewatered and graded into our two sand products.

For an in-depth explanation of our process, see our process page

About the products & services
can your recycled aggregates be used in ready-mix concrete production?

Yes. Our aggregates meet BS EN 12620 ‘Aggregates for Concrete’. BS 8500 for the production of concrete allows for 100% BS12620 recycled aggregate to be used in GEN 0 to GEN 3 concrete and 20% to be used in RC20/25 to RC 40/50 (except where the specification allows a higher proportion to be used).

why use structural grade aggregates in non-structural applications?

Exactly! In our opinion, virgin aggregates should only be reserved for high-spec applications where no alternative is currently allowed by construction standards. That being said, the uses for recycled materials are ever growing as research and development continues to untap their true potential. This means construction standards and specifications can take time to catch up with the latest advancements.

how do backloads work?

This is where one of our fleet can deliver aggregate to your site and take away muck or material in the same trip. A discount can be offered due to a saving on haulage, improving your margin.

can you make a blended product?

Yes, depending on the specification required. We can blend a range of aggregates to create many different gradings that are also compliant with the Specification for Highway Works. This process can be completed for bulk orders or single loads.

what's your normal turnaround time?

Our usual turnaround time is between 1-2 days from taking your order, however this can vary through the year.

why should I buy your products over virgin material when they're roughly the same price?

Choosing our recycled aggregates helps to support the local economy without damaging the local environment. Our recycled aggregates are certified to the Specification for Highway Works and meet industry standards. Our sand and gravel is high quality and comes with a low carbon footprint. By choosing recycled aggregates you will be supporting Scotland in its goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045, achieving the Paris Agreement and fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Virgin aggregates come at a huge cost to the environment. They are a finite resource with a big carbon footprint. In Scotland, the construction industry is responsible for 50% of the country’s natural resource consumption, 40% of the total carbon emissions and 50% of its total waste. This makes the construction industry the biggest stakeholder in waste production and aggregates consumption, so it makes sense to do all that we can to preserve natural resources and recycle waste wherever possible.

are these recycled aggregates safe to use?

We use state-of-the-art technology to produce our products and comply with SEPA’s end of waste criteria for the production of recycled aggregates from inert waste. The end products are high quality and have been tested and certified to meet industry standards.

For information on how recycled aggregates can be used in structural concrete, call (01506 431321) or email ([email protected]) to speak to our team.

your products are recycled materials. should they be cheaper than virgin resources?

All our products are tested and certificated to the same British product standards as virgin material and also comply with the same application standards (Specification for Highway Works). The materials are high quality and present no difference in performance of the product compared to virgin product. We’re competitively priced compared to virgin aggregates as while we suffer no aggregates levy, our processing costs are higher due to the nature of the feed material.

We create our high-quality recycled aggregates with our state-of-the-art wet processing recycling plant. The plant uses a range of techniques including hydrocyclone technology to clean, sort, size and extract quality materials from construction, demolition and excavation waste. 90% of the water used in the process is recycled for immediate use and it only takes approximately 10 minutes to process a load.

are your products free of contaminants?

Yes, all of our products are free of contaminants (within a 1% tolerance) and have been thoroughly washed and scrubbed during our recycling process.

what's the difference between recycled aggregates and virgin aggregates?

Both meet all the same British Standards (‘BS EN 13242 Aggregates for unbound and hydraulically bound materials’ and ‘BS EN 12620 Aggregates for concrete’). Virgin aggregates are mined from quarries which is an energy-intensive process and harmful to the environment. Our high-quality recycled aggregate is repurposed from construction, demolition and excavation waste, which is beneficial to the environment. If you have any hesitations or questions, please feel free to contact us and we can talk you through our process and products or arrange a site visit.

All of our products are tested to British Standards for products and the Specification for Highway Works for application. This is in line with our quality management system that adheres to the WRAP protocol and SEPA guidance for the production of aggregates from inert waste.

what waste do you accept?

Our wash plant can process non-hazardous soil and granular excavation waste into sand, gravel and clay. We also process rubble (brick, stone, concrete and mono blocks) for coarser crushed products.

Starting in 2021, we will be able to accept a range of products including: road sweepings, glass recycling, desanding waste, non-hazardous soils and stones.

how does a circular business/economy work?

A circular economy refers to the idea that the economy can be run as a closed loop system, meaning that little to no waste is produced. This is made possible by redesigning processes to ensure they are as efficient as possible and that any waste or by-products are used to create other things. The purpose of a circular economy is to create a sustainable way of doing business. 

At the rate that the world is currently using natural resources, we need 3 planet earths to sustain the demand. If Earth’s history was squeezed into 1 year, modern humans would have existed for the last 37 minutes but managed to consume a third of its resources in the last 0.2 seconds.

So what does that mean? Natural resources, like sand, are finite and because of the volume they’re being consumed at we are on course to deplete the world’s supplies of sand by 2030. The construction industry is responsible for the vast majority of virgin sand consumption as it is an essential material for building. In order for the industry to have a future, we need to change the way we use natural resources so it makes sense to switch from virgin to recycled aggregates, design out the waste and find uses for any by-products.

Using Brewster Brothers as an example, we take the waste from construction, demolition and excavation sources that would otherwise go to landfill and we recycle it. This process creates high-quality aggregates as well as some by-products (mainly clay and organic matter). The recycled aggregates are sold back into the construction, demolition and excavation industries, the organic matter can be composted and reused, and the clay is currently used as an impermeable capping layer to restore our wider site, but we hope to find higher value uses for the clay through our KTP with Heriot-Watt University.

Waste classification
do i need a wm3 (non-hazardous waste classification) or wac?

In large we require a WM3 classification of material as non-hazardous before we can accept waste at our recycling centre, although we have recently received permission from SEPA to process a modest amount of hazardous soils and stones (EWC 17 05 03).

Many people confuse WM3 as WAC analysis. WAC analysis is only relevant for waste destined for landfill whereas waste that is to be recycled needs a WM3 HazWasteOnline classification report to ensure that it is processed at an appropriately licensed facility. A site investigation report will normally contain soil analysis. From this information, we can offer an independent service to complete a WM3 interpretation on your behalf at minimal cost. In some instances, if waste soil is coming from a greenfield site for example, then we will not require a WM3 as long as we have confirmation from a site investigation that the site is indeed previously undeveloped land. 

If you have any queries regarding WM3 or WAC classifications, have a look at our blogs on waste classification, or please do not hesitate to get in touch via phone 01506 431321 or email [email protected]. Albion Environmental, experts in waste, can offer more technical guidance and training should you wish to learn more about waste classification.