In our latest career story, we speak to Mark Tyrrell, Packaging Control Manager about all things packaging and recycling here at Weetabix, along with his passion for dragonfly conservation.
What’s your role?
I look after all the technical aspects of our packaging. I head up the team responsible for bringing all-new packaging to market, from development, trials, artwork, legal labelling and printing. I also manage the specifications that we use to buy packaging and produce our products in the factories.
Packaging projects are a major part of my role too – I am tasked to deliver reductions of packaging for the business without affecting the performance or impacting the quality of our products. In recent years, I have driven the company’s packaging sustainability strategy to make serious reductions in our carbon footprint, a very important area and one I am passionate about delivering change in.
How long have you been at Weetabix?
I’ve been at Weetabix for 22 years, following seven years working for a packaging supplier who made packaging for the food industry.
I found the challenges food packaging offered were where I wanted to be. Weetabix is a famous UK brand, and like many others, I was brought up on their breakfast cereals and have fond memories of collecting the on-pack games that were popular on Weetabix packs in the ’70s & ’80s.
To think that I could play a major part in this was very exciting. When I saw the job ad in a packaging magazine, I knew it was the ideal role for me – allowing me to use my packaging knowledge from working as a supplier to bring real change for such an iconic brand, by speaking the same language as our suppliers.
What’s it like to work at Weetabix?
I am very proud to tell people I work for Weetabix, a British brand that everyone knows. Everyone I tell has an opinion on Weetabix, but most don’t realise we make so many other products, so I enjoy enlightening them a bit.
The pace of work is fast, very challenging and varied – I get to work with the Marketing team, design agencies, packaging companies, supply chain, procurement and our factories and warehouses, so there is never a dull moment!
I really appreciate the agile working and relaxed dress code as it makes for an informal atmosphere where you can and do achieve more.
What do you most enjoy about working at Weetabix?
I can’t imagine another role in another business where everyone knows and loves the brand, and where I have such a wide-reaching remit that touches so much, and keeps me busy, interested and where the product of my work sits on a supermarket shelf or in a consumers’ cupboard.
What opportunities have you had whilst at Weetabix?
I started as a one-man-band and within a few years was given approval to build a dedicated packaging team.
Since then, I’ve been encouraged to grow my managerial skills through training and on-the-job experience, alongside the freedom to enhance my technical skills.
I have joined external trade committees, such as WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Plan) and the FDF (Food & Drink Federation) where I have been trusted to represent Weetabix and make sure we are at the forefront of changes to our industry and are seen to be contributing to important national schemes that deliver real change.
Anything you’d like to share with us about your role?
To walk down a supermarket aisle and see products that you’ve had a hand in developing is a real thrill.
I was instrumental in persuading WRAP to add the inner bags we use on products such as Minis and Alpen, in the supermarket shopping bag recycling scheme. This enables these products to be 100% recyclable and avoid sending more waste to landfill. I have driven our packaging carbon footprint down, reduced plastic packaging and optimised the materials that we use to be the best for our products and the environment.
What do you love doing outside of work?
I’m a keen wildlife photographer and enjoy nothing more than early morning sessions photographing birds from a hide in a local nature reserve as the sun rises in spring. I am also passionate about dragonfly conservation and I’m the Northamptonshire County Recorder for the British Dragonfly Society. This means I record and collect records for all dragonflies seen in our county and contribute to the national database which provides valuable data to help their conservation. I have self-published an atlas of Dragonflies of Northamptonshire.