Panda man lets no chance go to waste
IF THERE is one business with good prospects in the recession, it is waste disposal, and Eamon Waters of Panda Waste Services is in the midst of a major expansion.
The enterprise has a turnover of about €50m -- significantly up in the last few years. The Meath man left school at 17 and admits he fell into the business by accident. Now, at a time of recession, his workforce has expanded to 219 workers and he has two new projects in the pipeline. The company's main business is wet and dry waste collection for industrial, commercial and household customers.
Two years ago, a significant part of the business was with the construction industry. That has disappeared, and to replace that Panda has moved strongly into the area of household waste, with wheelie bin collections all over Dublin as well as in Meath and Louth.
Panda has bases in Beauparc in Navan, Cappagh Road in Finglas and Ballymount Road on the southside of Dublin.
"We are building an anerobic digestion plant at the moment. As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere. The process produces a methane and carbon dioxide- rich biogas suitable for energy production, helping replace fossil fuels," Mr Waters said.
"Panda is also building a Refuse Dried Fuel plant where we take all the contents of the black bin and try to recycle it.
"We make a product that we can send to industrial kilns like Lagan and CRH and they can use it instead of coal, so it's good for carbon credits.
"If we have any problems, it's in the area of getting the infrastructure in on time, things like ESB networks and trying to get a connection to the grid at reasonable cost.
"We don't have a landfill, so that puts us in a unique position to try something new," he added.
Mr Waters is proud that Panda is the first company in Ireland to invest in the Wright Compost Tunnel System at a cost of €3m, as well as being the largest timber recycler in Ireland licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As well as being the biggest paper and cardboard recycler in the Republic, Panda was also the first company to offer a free household glass recycling service.
Panda services more than 40,000 domestic customers in Louth, Meath and Dublin. Customers are offered both a black and a green bin collection. More than 1,000 commercial customers are serviced nationwide, and recently Panda secured a contract to service all Dunnes Stores outlets in both the Republic and the North.