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The Real Problem with Recycled Aggregates

Mar 9, 2023 | Recycled Products

In this blog, we’re uncovering the real problem with recycled aggregates. For the last few decades, recycled aggregates have gone through a serious transformation. From the ‘rough and ready’ early days of dry crushing and screening, demand has driven innovation in processing equipment to the present day, where wash plants are used to extract the maximum possible aggregate value (including the sand fraction) from an abundant CDE waste stream. So much so, that you often can’t even tell the difference between recycled and virgin products.  

So why after all this time, innovation and testing do some still refuse to use recycled aggregates?  We’ve spoken to experts from across the industry to help buyers make the best choice for their project.

Common misconceptions can be distilled into three main concerns:


Typically, as with any recycled product, we get many questions about the quality of recycled aggregates. Our recycled aggregates are subjected to the same strength, compaction and quality testing as their virgin equivalents, so we can assure you if it’s good enough for British Standards and the Specification for Highway Works, it’s good enough for your project. It is important to check that your supplier meets the same product and application standards.

Our customers span across the Scottish Central belt from house builders to civil engineers and utilities workers. If you’re local to this area you’ve probably driven on roads or walked on footpaths with recycled aggregates used in them and might even be living in a housing estate that has them as part of its subbase, drainage infrastructure or utility network. Recycled aggregates perform the same as their virgin counterparts but with a much reduced environmental impact. 

Recycled Aggregates close up


Yes, really! We have been asked about the colour of the aggregates which the majority of the time are used in subsurface applications (ie: unseen). We’ve even been asked about the smell too, our washed products have had a rigorous clean leaving them with the natural scent of sand and gravel. 

ISO Certificates Brewster Brothers


Our recycled washed aggregates meet BS EN 12620 ‘Aggregates for Concrete’, BS 8500 for the ‘Production of Concrete’ (soon to be updated to reduce the carbon impact of concrete) and The Specification for Highway Works Series 500 which refers to drainage and service ducts. Our crushed aggregates meet Series 600 and 800 which relate to earthworks and road pavements respectively.  These regulations ensure that the products you use for your projects are safe and will stand the test of time. 

Read more about our testing and accreditations on our compliance page

In short, our recycled aggregates perform the same as their virgin equivalents, are compliant to all necessary standards and are a vital tool in transitioning the construction industry to a circular economy to meet net zero and zero waste targets. The real problem with recycled aggregates is nothing to do with the product itself, it’s the lack of understanding of their true value that’s the issue. It’s a no brainer, the myths of poor quality recycled aggregates are becoming legend through washing technology. Suppliers like ourselves take pride in the rigorous testing our materials go through, so that you can be confident in the products you buy.

Find out more on our FAQ page or get in touch to speak to our team who are more than happy to answer any questions you might have or help you with your next order.