Mannok has launched its packaging products’ sustainability strategy, which has a key focus on “protecting what matters” and provides a roadmap to help the company achieve its sustainability goals over the next five years and continue as leaders in sustainability.

The strategy aligns with relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals and has three focused pillars of protection: protecting resources, protecting nature and protecting people.    

Protecting Resources

Mannok is committed to producing truly circular packaging products which are fully recyclable and produced using recycled raw materials. It’s a commitment which has already led to industry leading innovation from the company, which has been recognised with multiple high-profile awards.

The next five years will see this continue, as Mannok’s strategy outlines plans to protect resources further, committing to ambitious targets in the immediate future. Highlights include the commitment to have zero landfill waste, a significant increase in recycled content in all PET products, and a move to only produce mono material MAP meat trays to eliminate the need for non-recycled content.

Protecting Nature

To protect nature globally and locally, the company will reduce carbon emissions in all operations, plant more trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and further enhance biodiversity in the local region. Mannok has already started this journey to enhance and protect nature having planted half a million pollen and nectar rich flowers and native trees, introduced 100% electric powered vehicles to its fleet and uses 100% green electricity in the manufacture of its products.

In its five-year plan, the company focuses on energy management and carbon reduction initiatives, and outlines dedicated biodiversity targets which will see the grounds surrounding the packaging plant become home to a quarter of a million native Irish bees and 1,000 native trees.

Protecting People

The third pillar of the strategy focuses on people: Mannok’s employees, the local community and the value chain of people which makes the business a success. The company has recently been recognised for their award-winning Skills Development Programme, which it commits to extend to all staff to ensure each team member has tailored, structured career development opportunities. The strategy also outlines how the company will continue to prioritise the health and safety of its staff, including targets to reflect its importance, and embedding mental health commitments to support employees with personalised support programmes.

Mannok’s commitment to the local community will see the company introduce a volunteer programme and fundraising drive, committing to enable its team to complete 500 hours of voluntary work and raise £30,000 for local charities.

Commenting on the launch of the packaging producer’s sustainability strategy and the level of commitment to protect what matters, Mark McKenna, General Manager of Mannok’s packaging division, said,

“We are delighted to publish our five-year sustainability strategy, which has been several months in development and outlines our ambitious pathway for the next five years.

Sustainability is now an integral part of our culture and we are proud of the progress we have already made in making our business more sustainable. In developing our strategy, we have carefully considered the meaning of “Protecting What Matters” and have developed a challenging roadmap, focusing on the acceleration of our short-term sustainable development with meaningful contributions to achieve this.

For us, our commitment to protect what matters goes beyond preventing harm. We must also nurture, develop and encourage the planet’s resources and ecosystems and our people and communities to flourish. Our people, our local region and community are very much at the heart of this strategy. It is their support and commitment which makes our business a success and it is with their continued support that we will deliver on the commitments we have now published.”

Download: Sustainability Strategy 2021-2026

Mannok Team Develop Jazz PET trays for a true circular economy

Mannok has developed a new plastic food packaging which utilises a recycled PET material stream previously overlooked by the food packaging sector in its production, Recur by Mannok. This is a true circular economy food packaging solution made from jazz PET – a mixed coloured PET material derived from recycled post-consumer bottles and PTT (pots, tubs, and trays).

Recur by Mannok has already hit Tesco shelves across Northern Ireland, with the first of the new packaging range available to consumers since 4th April. The roll-out of the first Recur line is continuing, with a total of 12 new packaging trays in green, burgundy and silver, due to be on the shelves by 10th May.

Until now, consumer demand for high clarity clear trays has resulted in a strong industry reliance on recycled post-consumer clear PET bottles. Limited demand for coloured trays has meant that recycled post-consumer PET material, other than clear PET bottles, are often downcycled into non-food packaging applications.

Recur by Mannok has been developed to change this practice and challenges the industry to rethink its position on the recycled material used in food tray manufacturing.

Recur ensures PET food packaging can be easily and continuously recycled back into food packaging, providing a more environmentally sustainable solution. By facilitating a higher inclusion level of recycled PTT (pots, tubs, and trays) in PET food packaging, Recur is the ultimate circular economy solution.

Speaking of Recur and its potential impact on the industry, Mannok Sales Manager, Ruairi Maguire, commented,

“Jazz” trays, such as Recur, are the future of food packaging trays, and a potential game changer in the industry. As the demand for clear PET bottle flake increases due to commitments by drinks companies to increase the recycled material content in their PET bottles, we risk material shortages and price increases due to overwhelming demand. To mitigate this risk, we must broaden the range of recycled materials we use in our food packaging products.

Recur achieves the same high quality, food grade standards required from our packaging trays, bringing with it a broad range of different coloured packaging products, deviating from the traditional clear trays which rely on clear PET bottle flake to produce. Our supermarket shelves are destined to become a more colourful display, and it’s a change which retailers should be proud to adopt and shoppers should be eager to see, as it is a sign that we are moving towards a more sustainable, true circular economy.

We’re delighted to have Recur trays already on supermarket shelves and commend Tesco and Hilton Foods Ireland for their early adoption of the new range.”

Recur is the newest addition to Mannok’s range of sustainable packaging solutions, each one designed to address specific recyclability issues:

Recur by Name…

The name Recur reflects the circular nature if the product which ensures we can recycle the PET food packaging of all colours in our ordinary household recycling waste into new food grade PET food packaging. It’s the perfect name for a product which is eternally renewable, and which revives “jazz PET” for continuous use.

Mannok successfully completed a 2-day surveillance audit of its ISO Certified Health and Safety, Quality Assurance and Environmental Management Systems in April.

The detailed inspection was carried out by leading certification body, Certification Europe, and involved a thorough review of all aspects of the packaging manufacturing business. During the successful audit of the facility against the ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 9001 certification standards, auditors found no non-conformities or opportunities for improvement.

The accreditations are globally recognised as representation of the highest standards in environmental, health and safety and quality management respectively, underlining the significant work which the business does to maintain the excellent standards they have implemented.

Speaking of the certifications, the company’s EHS Manager, Breda Mulligan, said

“These ISO accreditations represent the highest benchmark in standards relating to health and safety, environmental and quality management systems, and successfully completing the surveillance audits for all three recognises the continuous work we’re doing here in Mannok to ensure we uphold superior standards in the areas which matter most to our business. Maintaining this level of excellence is very much a collaborative effort from every member of the team, which impacts every part of our business, so the positive outcome from the auditing process is thanks to the hard work of all involved.”

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety

ISO 45001 is an International Standard that specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, with guidance for its use, to enable an organisation to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health. The standard applies a risk-based approach to the management of all health and safety matters in the workplace to ensure that management processes are effective and are continually improved in line with industry standards and changes throughout the company. ISO 45001 enables an organisation, through its OH&S management system, to integrate other aspects of health and safety, such as worker wellness/wellbeing.

ISO 14001: Environmental Management System

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) is a systematic framework to manage the immediate and long-term environmental impacts of an organisation’s products, services and processes. It is internationally recognised as a means for organisations to grow their business in a sustainable manner, minimising their environmental footprint and diminishing environmental risk through the development and maintenance of sustainability focused operational improvements.

ISO 9001: Quality Assurance Management System

ISO 9001 sets out the criteria for a quality management system based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement. Using ISO 9001 helps ensure that customers get consistently high quality products and services and is a trusted mark which reassures all customers of the quality they can expect when dealing with Mannok.

Twenty staff members from Mannok’s packaging production facilities have successfully completed their NVQ level 7 Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certificate course with the Institute of Technology, Sligo (IT Sligo). The 14-week online course is reputed as Ireland’s premier accredited online Lean & Operational Excellence course, utilised by several of the country’s leading employers to upskill their workforce in the areas of Lean and Six Sigma.

Mannok have formed a partnership with IT Sligo to deliver a structured training programme which will enable staff to gain knowledge and skills in the areas of Lean and Operational Excellence as part of the company’s “Leading Excellence” development programme. The four-tier training programme gives Mannok employees the opportunity to gain QQI accreditation in Lean Six Sigma through IT Sligo, up to level eight accreditation.

The twenty staff members who recently achieved their Yellow Belt certification are now accredited to level 7 and will have the opportunity to continue progressing to achieve their Level 8 qualification.

Mannok’s General Manager, Mark McKenna commented on the importance of employee involvement in the Lean Manufacturing journey, saying,

Part of developing a truly Lean thinking business is ensuring it is part of the very fabric of the organisation, and that requires the involvement of everyone in the company. The provision of a structured, certified upskilling framework open to all employees is an important route to achieving that. Our partnership with Sligo IT and our wider Leading Excellence Programme also aligns with the responsibility we have to our staff.

One of the most important things we do for the people in our business is offer them opportunities to continuously progress and upskill throughout their career with us, and we’ve proven that the calibre of our employee development structure is among the very best in the country, having recently won a HR Leadership and Management Award for our Skills Development Programme.

Well done to the team members who have worked hard in very challenging times to successfully earn their Yellow Belt certification and to all those who are currently working towards their next achievement level.

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Manufacturing is a globally recognised methodology that focuses on minimizing waste within manufacturing systems while simultaneously maximizing productivity. Mannok have been implementing Lean Manufacturing principles throughout their operations for a number of years now, continuously looking at how the company can improve its processes and physical working environment to become a more efficient and less wasteful business. Eliminating waste leads to reduced environmental impact, improved quality, increased productivity, and reduced costs, benefitting both the business and its customers.

The Lean Six Sigma training Programme adopted by Mannok combines the proven Lean principles with another business methodology, Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a data driven, problem solving methodology that utilises tools to improve the capability of an organisation’s business processes.

It views all work as processes that can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled, and applies strategies to achieve increase in performance and decrease in process variation, leading to defect reduction and improvement in profits, employee morale, and quality of products or services.

With continuous improvement and innovative thinking embedded in the culture at Mannok, the very nature of the Lean and Six Sigma principles to enhance and refine every area of the business on an ongoing basis, have become part of the everyday way of working in the company.

With Brexit now only a matter of weeks away, Mannok’s CFO, Dara O’Reilly, has outlined the work the company have been doing to prepare for the 1st January deadline in this new interview. The message from the interview is clear: Mannok is ready for whatever the Brexit outcome is, and ensuring a smooth transition and continued customer supply is a top priority.

The Interview

Dara O’Reilly, Mannok CFO

“Mannok is a uniquely located business; it’s located on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, on the only land border which will exist between the EU and the UK following the UK’s exit on 1st January. We have operations both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland within our business, so for example in the Republic of Ireland we have our cement plant in Ballyconnell, our packaging plant which manufactures plastic packaging, and we have our PIR insulation plant. We also have some quarry assets in that jurisdiction as well. On the Northern Ireland side of the border we have a number of our concrete products facilities, so we have our precast concrete plant, we have our roof tiles plant, our administration offices, our aircrete block plant, and our dense concrete block plant, as well as ready mix facilities and a number of quarry activities located in Northern Ireland.

Mannok Company Map

“On a day to day basis, the Mannok business would have approximately 450-500 cross-border movements of our product. That could be raw materials coming from our quarries into the cement plant in the Republic of Ireland, or some of our cement product going to our concrete products facilities in Northern Ireland. In addition to that, obviously we have a significant amount of customer product moving from our facilities out to our customer base within the island of Ireland. On a daily basis we also have on average around 80-90 truck loads per day leaving our base here in Ballyconnell and Derrylin and traversing the Irish Sea over to our GB customer base.

“The border in that eventuality is invisible. All that might differentiate the border in this area is a line in the tarmac in the road where it changes from one local authority to another, but outside of that at present we have no customs infrastructure, and haven’t had for many years.

“We’ve taken a lot of measures within the business to facilitate a smooth transition from the pre-Brexit era to the post-Brexit era to ensure our customer base sees that transition as seamlessly as possible, and that they continue dealing with Mannok for their product needs.

“The work that we’ve done in that regard involves some systems development in our IT systems here; it also involves some changes in the way we’ll operate going forward. In addition to that, we’ve also had to look at our corporate structure to ensure that corporate structure is fit for purpose under the new post-Brexit day scenario.

“So, we have established a number of new legal entities within our business, a number of new companies, within the GB market, and in effect what will happen is our GB customers will be dealing with a Mannok GB entity. They will be dealing with that entity directly: they’ll be placing their orders with that business and they’ll be getting their invoices from and paying that GB-based entity. And then, behind the scenes as such, we as a business will be catering for and dealing with all of the administration that’s associated with the cross-border movement of those goods. All of the red tape associated with customs documentation, declarations etc., is contained in effect within the Mannok organisation and we will look after all of that for our customers. So, from a customer’s perspective, it’s the exact same dealing with Mannok as dealing with a supplier who’s just down the road from you.

“No doubt our customers will be wondering if this is going to lead to extra cost for them in relation to the product we’re supplying to them. I suppose if you look at that, what we will be doing is we will be seeking to get a market price for our product. Tariffs obviously is something which is a little bit of an unknown post January 1st. In terms of the actual tariffs that apply to our products, they range in value from potentially zero under WTO tariffs to 6.5% for some of our products. Those tariffs will impact on our competitors as well, some of which import a significant amount of their raw material from Europe.

“The price that we charge on the invoice will be the entire price, including whatever tariffs might apply to us. So, in summary, we can reassure our customers that the price we charge for our products will be in line with market pricing within the markets we’re operating in and servicing. And we do believe that for the quality of the product that we supply, we are very competitively priced.

“Naturally, another consideration for the business is the supply chain of raw materials, and indeed parts, for example for our machinery on our production lines: where those products are coming from, where they’re sourced, and is the eventuality of Brexit going to have any impact on those? And we’ve been working with our supplier base  for quite a period of time now to ensure that the structures that they have in place and the supply chains and supply lines that they have in place are sufficient and robust to cater for a Brexit scenario.

“For example, as far back as 18 months ago, some of our raw material suppliers have started utilising different routes for getting their product from their production facilities on mainland Europe to our production facilities in the Republic of Ireland. What we have been doing more recently is building stocks and making sure that we have stocks of critical parts and raw materials for our production enterprise. We have the capability within our own storage facilities to store enough raw material – for example within our PIR insulation and our packaging areas of the business – to cater for a number of weeks’ production requirements.

“On the other side of the business, the concrete products side of the business, virtually all of our raw materials are sourced locally within our own reserves, and we have plenty of that as well. But for those products we have to buy in, we’ve built our storage and the amount of products we’re keeping on site at our production facilities; we have arrangements with our key suppliers also that they will maintain buffer stocks for us at their own locations, and as I mentioned, we’re also looking at the supply chains and the supply lines from their production facilities into our facilities to ensure that any delays are minimised and that, if there are delays, we have sufficient stock to maintain a supply to our customers.

“A key priority for us in all of this was to ensure that the service we can provide to our customers in a post-Brexit environment is as seamless as possible. We’ve made the changes to our structures; we’ve made the changes to how we operate; and as a result of that, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, we’re ready.”