A planned €4 million investment by Shabra Plastics will create 30 jobs at its Castleblayney facility next year.
Rita Shah, chief executive at the Monaghan-based recycling firm, said the investment would increase capacity on the eight-acre site from recycling 12,000 tons of polyethylene terephthalate (Pet) bottles a year to 35,000 tons.
“It means we will be able to export more. There is a lot of opportunity there for us, because of increased focus on sustainability worldwide, and we need more capacity to meet that.
“We had hoped to start building this year. We have the planning permission, but we have had to delay the work now because of Covid-19.”
Shabra built the existing plastic bottle sorting plant in 2010 at a cost of €3.5 million.
The company employs 70 people and annually recycles more than 10,000 tons of plastic waste made from Pet and high and low-density polyethylene.
It takes in bottles, crates, pallets and coat hangers from household and industrial waste companies.These items are then cleaned and shredded into plastic flakes and pellets and used to make bags and packaging for the food, retail and other sectors.
“The plastic recyclate is exported to Britain, Europe and the Far East,” Shah said.
“At one point, all of our business was export. Now, we also sell in Ireland to companies like Quinn Packaging and Avoncourt Plastics. Our reprocessed plastic is used in everything from food packaging to nappies and carpets.”
Shah set up Shabra Plastics with Oliver Brady, the late horseracing trainer. She met Brady while he was working for her father’s business in Kenya, and Shabra began trading in the mid-1990s, initially selling plastic bags.
“We imported our first consignment of bags, but Oliver was a very innovative person and his vision was always to manufacture here,” Shah said.
“We started manufacturing the bags ourselves in 1995 and we did very well until the government levy on plastic bags was introduced in 2002.
“We knew it was on the way at some point, but we didn’t know when and it came as a shock. Overnight, €4 million in revenue was wiped out, because the next day all these big multiples decided that they couldn’t take any stock.”
Shah and Brady changed direction, with support from the state agency Enterprise Ireland.
“Oliver had already put in a recycling plant in our site, so we could make our own recycled material for our bags,” Shah said. “We decided to go into intensive recycling, sourcing all kinds of waste material we could reprocess.
“Enterprise Ireland was enormously helpful. They have supported and encouraged us from the day we started recycling here in Castleblayney. I think they are one of the best organisations in the world at what they do.”