Rita Shah – Carrickmacross.ie

Rita Shah, Director of Shabra Plastics

You were short-listed for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards - what were the factors that lead to your short listing; did it affect the profile of the company?
The main reason I think why I was shortlisted is obviously because our company is very unique and it works very well. In a relatively short time our company has grown and we have a brand new large manufacturing, convertor and recycling base in Castleblayney. We are the only company in Ireland that collects plastic waste, sorts it into the various types, processes it and then manufactures some of the waste into various plastic products. We also send the material to other companies locally where it is made into carpets and fleeces. In some cases we export the plastics to other countries.

As the only female short-listed, do you think there is under representation of female Entrepreneurs?
I think it is a very good recognition for women and yes, women generally are under-represented in business in general. This is a pity. I was also short-listed for the Women in Business Awards which is great for promoting women in business. The awards were great for us, RTE's Nationwide did a feature on the company. We received a large number of enquiries resulting from the programme and the newspaper coverage which was great..

How did you become involved in recycling?
I always thought every time I looked at waste, these are things of value, if life is so valuable everything else is valuable, so waste is valuable.

Why did you locate your company in Carrickmacross?
The company director, Oliver Brady, was working in Kenya with my father for many years. He decided to come back to Ireland, he is originally from Ballybay, and set up a business and I came over and helped to get the business off the ground. I love Carrickmacross and I am reluctant to move to the new offices when they are finished in Castleblayney.

Are people and companies much more aware of the need for recycling now, compared to when you first started?
Yes, many people are more aware and this is in part due to the environmental legislation that the EU and the government are bringing out more frequently now. People are realising how important the environment is and want to do something about it, but we still have a long way to go. There are not enough recycling facilities available for people to use. When we started the company it was difficult to convince people about recycling and the benefit of it, we had to try hard for the first few years but it was worth it.

What sort of products does Shabra recycle and what is the outcome of recycling this products - ie are plastics be manufactured into bottles again etc.
We recycle every kind of plastic, we take in mostly commercial waste which we collect at our client's premises or they bring it to our base in Castleblayney. We can recycle all sorts of plastic, we used to produce a lot of plastic shopping bags but sine the tax levy of 15c came in last year the demand for these bags have fallen. We now produce more of the heavy plastic bin bags, all types of plastic bottles and containers that you see in your local shop, compactor bags, self seal bags, pallet wrap and pallet hood covers, heavy duty sacks and much more!

Is Ireland behind in recycling compared to other European countries?
Yes it is very far behind and it will be until we have legislation in place and we have more recycling facilities available to industry and households.

What advice would you give to people regarding recycling waste?
I think the ordinary housewife is trying to do her bit. Think about what you are using every day and what is going into your bin. How much of it can be recycled? People can separate their waste and bring their plastics to us, and use the recycling facilities around the area for tins, paper, clothes and wood. But people need to learn how to separate their waste so they should call into one of these centres before bringing in waste so they can find out how best to do it.

For more information on Shabra Plastics you can look at their web site on www.shabra.com.

Thank you Rita and continued success with Shabra Plastics.
Web Master, Carrickmacross.ie