IPL Perspectives:

Michael De Carvalho & Mark Castro

In this month’s feature of IPL Perspectives we sat down (behind a desk over Zoom) with Michael De Carvalho and Mark Castro.

Michael is a Senior Business Development Director at IPL Packaging. Mark is IPL’s Head of NPD for the US.

To understand Michael and Mark’s perspectives relating to their specific roles within the company, we asked them the question:

How is the continued drive towards sustainability altering the approach to luxury packaging, and how are you seeing this play out in your work environment?

Read through their responses below.

MARK CASTRO | Head of NPD USA

In my view, the transition towards sustainability in the luxury space is often slower than in other sectors as high-end brand owners are used to working with the likes of painted and veneered wooden boxes, gold plaques or embellishments and EVA foam fitments, for example. Metallized plastic, metallized glass and many other types of materials; which, while connoting quality and expense, are difficult to recycle.

These materials, historically associated with luxury packaging, do not easily decompose and therefore do not easily fit into the global eco-friendly drive. Whilst some aspects of sustainability (longevity and secondary use) can still be achieved with these traditionally high-end materials, they are not as evident or easily understood and appreciated by consumers as being sustainable.

For many luxury brands, I do not envisage them necessarily making immediate and dramatic shifts in their materials of choice. However, in addition to secondary usage many brands will look to improve their eco-friendly credentials in a way that encompasses the entire packaging value and supply chain process.

At IPL we’re often tasked with projects where a client wishes us to review their existing packaging programmes and processes and, what we often discover, is that many are simply full of redundancies.

This typically entails extra materials and layers of waste or the use of items that are not properly engineered. This can also result in the packaging being far larger and bulkier than what it needs be.

Every element of packaging should be designed to reduce its carbon footprint. So, while some brands may be resistant to material changes, there are many other options open to still improve sustainability goals, for example through material efficiencies, responsible sourcing, secondary uses and carbon friendly processes.

The good news is that we’re continually discovering and employing new technologies and efficiencies that will still allow for that premium feel, but with fully recyclable and plastic-free properties.

Molded pulp is one example, as are many other plant based alternatives to materials. Over time, there is no doubt that luxury brands, even if resistant now, will start to move towards more eco-friendly substrates too.

With the right approach, materials, and design and packaging partner it’s possible to create luxury packaging solutions that meet consumer desires, are environmentally responsible and make supply chains and shipping more economical – but it will take increased collaboration and compromise throughout the entire supply chain, and more importantly, real commitment on a systemic level from major brands.

MICHAEL DE CARVALHO | Senior Business Development Director

The growing surge in consumer demand for sustainable goods has placed increasing challenges on luxury brands and businesses to offer sustainable, eco-friendly product and packaging solutions.

There is a hesitation about committing to materials and processes that are perceived to potentially reduce the value of a luxury item.

Marketing to an industry centered around image, especially when it comes to luxury products and brands, requires careful handling. Further, while great progress is being made, for certain types of sustainable solutions, there may be cost implications for the brand.

Manufacturers need to provide luxury packaging companies with packaging that looks to reflect the high-quality values of the product, yet also has environmental credentials.

We are actively and continually presenting our clients with better and better sustainable packaging options.

Through material choices, production process and logistics, carbon footprints can be lowered and packaging finishes can still retain that luxury feel. So, in many ways, this is no longer a case of having to find suitable solutions but rather now a case of how the brand custodians/marketers wish to approach their brands position in the marketplace.

In truth, luxury brands may actually be in a stronger position than they think when it comes to addressing sustainability. Many of the features already relating to a luxury product’s packaging, such as longevity (or secondary use), are in alignment with eco-friendly goals. The real key is to balance responsible business practices, client needs and goals.

GET INTO

THE MIND OF...


Each month we ask our “Perspectives” features a few questions to provide you with a little more context and insight into their job roles as well as themselves.

MARK CASTRO

I wear a number of hats but, ultimately, I see my role and responsibility as one of achieving the company’s goals.

  • Ensuring we answer every client brief, be it existing packaging or an RFD (working hand-in-hand with the design department) to take a brand to the next level.
  • Overseeing research into new processes, materials and innovations and showcasing these to existing or potential clients.
  • Directing the varied processes of production through to final delivery, including but not limited to all QA processes.
  • From a systems perspective I also ensure all standard operating procedures are adhered to by PM teams.

And that’s in a nutshell 😉

That greatly depends on the day! I generally check emails to check on new briefs or client feedback or review QA reports / NPD and other issues I’m involved in. From there, I’ll manage my day in order of priority. Pressing issues go right to the top of my list, then I work my way down to the lower priority items.

I prefer a balance of both. Home has its pros as I get to focus without interruptions. The office gives me the opportunity for face-to-face interaction and review in-process and new projects with the teams I deal with.

I’d definitely pick languages; Xhosa, Chinese and Spanish are languages I’d like to learn over the next decade.

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Mark Castro
Michael De Carvalho

MICHAEL DE CARVALHO

I’m the Senior Business Development Director at IPL Packaging out of our NY office, and my role is to essentially expand market share in North America.

If not traveling, I’ll shower, get ready for the day, make breakfast for my two boys, get them on the bus and head to the office. At the office I light a candle daily for good energy, ask my Google speaker to play some Bob Marley, make a cup of coffee and quickly update myself of the latest news and trends in the industry etc. After this I’ll review my to-do list for the day, meetings or calls I may have and then get going!

Working at home is not for me! It makes life a bit easier in some ways but I don’t believe it’s good for productivity and, perhaps more importantly, mental health. Even with all the Zooms and Skypes I still enjoy the positive energy and interaction of physically being around another human. In the words of Aristotle “Man is by nature a social animal, an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual”.

Currently I’m able to speak English, Portuguese and Spanish fluently, but I’d love the ability to learn an entirely new language; possibly Japanese.

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