Ballymakenny College: an A+ in Sustainability

Kids gardening

45,000 plastic bottles were diverted out of the school,
35% reduction in energy costs in the last year,
100% plastic-free canteen by the end of 2022.

- Principal Alan Mynes -

BALLYMAKENNY COLLEGE is a secondary school located in Drogheda County Louth. Since opening in 2014 the school has grown from a student body of 63 students and 9 staff to over 920 students and over 90 staff members with its main driving force being Principal Alan Mynes. We caught up with the Environmental Team in advance of Earth Day…



Why start on this sustainability journey?

The journey has been ongoing and has been consistent in its expectations across learning excellence and Innovation.

  • The reduction in the amount of water needed by the school to function. A water harvesting system has been implemented and this rainwater is now used in many ways but most specifically in latrines across the school. This has and continues to reduce the amount of wasted water onsite by about 70%
  • The schools boasts a wonderful garden. This has been created by staff and students alike and a main feature of the garden is a seated area where people can take a timeout for mindfulness or just a chat with some of their colleagues. Wild flowers and any amount of vegetables are grown onsite. This is ongoing and the vegetable follow the seasons. Anything from potatoes to fruit trees are harvested.
  • The school even has it own chickens… 3 in fact. Their names are Bally, Mak and Kenny.
  • The canteen now has moved away from plastics and only used biodegradable product to serve out the breaks and lunches.

Who was involved in setting up & driving the project?

The City Bin Co. were invited this year to start handling waste onsite. The school now has general waste, recycling and organic bins to handle all waste.

  • Ballymakenny collaborated with John Farrell from The City Bin Co. to come up with a plan to divert waste from landfill. Alan Mynes Principal, Caroline Toole (DP) and other staff members Collie Joyce Ahearne, Philip Bergin and Peter Kermath along with the student Environmental Team all continue to share an equal role in the success of the project

What was done & by whom?

Initially Peter Kermath, the school’s Caretaker met with John Farrell to facilitate the changeover to The City Bin Co.

  • The Environmental Team made up of teachers and students collaborated and formed steps to make the college greener.
  • Both teachers and students alike came up with the garden concept, Principal Alan Mynes along with the board of management brought the water harvesting to a reality along with removing plastic bottled water.

The results?

Some key results today

  • A huge 45,000 plastic bottles have been diverted out of the school
  • The college is an A-rated building with sustainable features including
    –          Energy saving lighting
    –          Vampire technology that reduces non-essential use of electrical power
    –          A building management system that ventilates and heats the school
    –          Rainwater harvesting saving 440,000 litres of water per year.
  • All general waste being diverted from landfill

What next?

  • The canteen by end of 2022 to be an only biodegradable facility
  • The compost heap in the garden to be fully functioning for all compost for the garden and vegetable patch by end of school term
  • A tree planting ceremony this week to mark the success of the project to date