Two young farmers from Co. Meath who developed a company which recycles old plastic drums have claimed a national award.

Matthew Kealy and Theo Staunton from St. Patrick’s Classical School in Navan developed their company, Barrelda, after getting inspiration to cut down waste on their own farms.

The pair saw the opportunity to recycle the poly (polyethylene) drums, which would have been used to hold teat dip and hoofcare liquids, to create new products.

The Meath students, both aged 16, used the drums to develop farming equipment such as meal troughs and calf teat feeders.

They have sold 22 products since starting their business, with each item costing €100.

Both Matthew and Theo are hoping to develop new products through Barrelda and expand their trade across the country.

Award winners

The Meath students won the senior category award at this year’s national finals of the Student Enterprise Programme which were held in The Helix in Dublin today (Wednesday, May 18).

Now in its 20th year, the programme challenges students to create, establish and run their own businesses. The participants must also show sales of their product or service.

Aoibheann McNally from Loreto College, Dalkey in Dublin won the intermediate category with her company, Earrings by Aoibheann, which sells hypoallergenic earrings.

The winner of the junior category award was Ciara Ryan’s Sew Stylish. The student from St, Brigid’s College, Callan in Kilkenny created multi-functional hair scrunchies from recycled materials.

The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, who took part in today’s ceremony, congratulated the students:

“To be able to create an idea, turn that idea into a business and to grow that business, is a remarkable skill that will stand to you no matter what you end up doing in your career later in life.

“In Ireland we have always shown great fortitude, determination and grit in times of difficulty and if these students are anything to go by, we have not lost that ability – in fact, I’m more positive than ever about the future and the next generation,” the Tánaiste said.

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 300,000 secondary school students have taken part in the Local Enterprise Office initiative and learned key skills in entrepreneurship.

This year, almost 24,000 students from around 500 schools around the country took part.