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The advantages of primary aggregates over recycled aggregates

Aggregates are the backbone to many construction projects, providing stability, strength and durability to various structures. Due to these inherent characteristics and load-bearing capability, aggregates provide an essential base material for roads, railways and building foundations. They are also widely used for embankment works, drainage systems and landscaping.

Aggregates can be broadly separated into primary aggregates and recycled aggregates. Primary aggregates are obtained directly from natural resources such as quarries, rivers, or lakes. Formed over millions of years through geological processes, they can be found in a wide range of sizes and compositions. Common primary aggregates, like gravel and crushed stone, are extracted through quarrying and processed to meet specific requirements before being used in construction.

While recycled aggregates also have their uses in construction projects, by their nature, they are derived from materials that have previously been used in buildings or other applications. After collecting construction and demolition waste, materials like concrete, asphalt and brick are crushed and mixed together into a recycled material for use in new construction projects.

At Johnston Quarry Group, we produce a range of primary aggregates sourced from our UK quarries that have never been used before. Here, we examine the benefits of primary aggregates and why they are the preferred choice over recycled aggregates.

Benefits of primary aggregates

Quality and consistency

Primary aggregates are considered to have a more consistent and reliable quality compared to recycled aggregates. They are extracted directly from the quarry or mine, ensuring a standardised composition that meets specific engineering requirements.


In certain applications, such as in the construction of heavy-use roads or for specific engineering purposes, primary aggregates are preferred due to their known characteristics and predictable behaviour.

Availability and supply

Primary aggregates are a readily available resource and can be extracted in large quantities. This can be advantageous for construction projects with high demand and tight timelines. The Johnston Quarry Group have quarries throughout Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire and supply over 1 million tonnes of aggregates across the UK every year.

Reduced contamination risk

Recycled aggregates may contain contaminants from the demolition or recycling process, such as residual mortar or other materials. Primary aggregates are less likely to have such contaminants, reducing the risk of adverse effects on the performance and durability of the construction material.

Meeting standards and specifications

Primary aggregates are more likely to meet specific industry standards and specifications for construction materials. This can be important for projects where compliance with certain standards is a critical requirement. Some of our aggregates, such as our Creeton Camb Spec, have local authority approval making them easy to specify for projects.

Long term durability

Primary aggregates, being naturally occurring materials, can offer better long-term durability compared to recycled aggregates, as the impact of contaminants and the potential for degradation over time can be less of a concern.

The Johnston Quarry Group supply a wide range of crushed and screened primary aggregates suitable for roads, drainage, menages and building bases. Extracted specifically for first-time use as aggregates, they possess high strength and durability for all uses.

Our type 1 graded aggregates have excellent load-bearing capabilities ideal for sub-bases in heavy-use areas. We also stock a range of high-grade Cotswold Limestone aggregates, including attractive decorative chippings ideal for footpaths and other garden landscaping projects.

As well as offering a decorative surface finish, primary aggregates are also known for their qualities in filtering and drainage. Their course and porous composition allow water to flow through without difficulty and disperse into the ground or drainage system.

For all your primary aggregate requirements we supply in bulk for delivery or collection from our quarries in Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire. For further information, please contact our team on 01608 489900 or email info@jqgroup.co.uk.

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