Envirogreen Recycling is a business in a hurry. The Armagh company was only established in August last year, yet it is on course for a three quarters of a million pound turnover in its first year, and its cast of prestigious customers includes the Quinn Group.
Conor Guy, the entrepreneur who established the firm, is also not conventional, having studied law at university. “I thought society was saturated with solicitors and barristers,” he explains. So he then began studying human resources, which led to a placement assisting with recruitment for a Dublin-based waste management business.
“I thought I could do a better job than they could!,” recalls Conor. “Their costs were sky high, especially wages in the Republic. It was very inefficient.”
After this, Conor travelled internationally to see how the sector operated. “I worked for an environmental services company in Australia. Then I made some more enquiries and got £7,000 from the family in financial assistance.” And away he was.
Now, just a few months later, the firm has 14 full time staff, another three part time and is committed to continual investment. “It is very labour intensive,” he explains. “We have moved into larger premises and are investing in more efficient machinery to reduce labour costs. Then we can reallocate staff to other activities that are more efficient.”
The firm handles a wide range of recyclable materials, buying baled cardboard, plastic, metal and glass. At its premises it also operates as an environmentally friendly operator, using water-saving toilets and taps, low energy consumption machinery and energy efficient light bulbs — with the objective of becoming carbon neutral during next year.
One of the most important aspects of running a recycling business is to secure stable demand — a problem highlighted early last year when there was a collapse in demand for recycled materials and, consequently, in their price.
Conor is confident he has the challenge covered with reliable customers for the materials in England and the Far East.
Similarly, the business has secure arrangements for the supply of materials for recycling across Ireland, not only with the Quinn Group, but with many retailers. But Conor doesn’t plan to stop there.
“Now the firm has clear ideas about how to expand further. We are hoping to get more products for recycling, including polystyrene, and winning contracts with local councils,” he says.
For a business less than a year old, this is fast progress — so fast that it is no wonder that Conor was shortlisted for last week's Belfast Telegraph young business person of the year award.
“We are on course for a turnover of £750,000, which is ok for the first year's trade,” says Conor. That is a major understatement