In 2008, the soccer participant Mathieu Flamini moved from Arsenal, the place he’d spent 4 years as a troublesome however elegant midfielder, to AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A. On the similar time, unknown to his colleagues within the dressing room on the San Siro, he quietly launched into one other new journey.
Flamini, now 38, grew up in Marseille within the south of France. Soccer was his first ardour, in fact, however dwelling so near the ocean made him conscious of sustainability too—he may see the plastic washing up on the shore, and he took inspiration from the environmental activism of the well-known explorer Jacques Cousteau.
When he moved to Italy, he and a good friend—Pasquale Granata—began establishing conferences with scientists and teachers, searching for alternatives within the area of sustainability. Over time, they narrowed their focus to “inexperienced chemistry” and based GFBiochemicals.
Its principal product is an obscure molecule referred to as levulinic acid, which GFBiochemicals has spent a decade determining the right way to mass produce from agricultural waste merchandise. It would sound area of interest, even boring—a world away from the same old footballer companies of NFTs and trend labels—but it surely could possibly be transformative. It affords, Flamini says, a “plant-based” different to oil-derived chemical compounds that could possibly be utilized in 1000’s of merchandise, from paints to cosmetics.
Flamini has just lately been named CEO of GFBiochemicals, which has secured a €15 million (round $14.9 million) funding to take its merchandise out of the lab and into business. Levulinic acid is a constructing block—a platform that may be tweaked and altered to swimsuit the necessities of various industries. GFBiochemicals already has nearly 200 patents for plant-based solvents, polyols, and plasticizers—all issues that would exchange substances extracted from fossil fuels, which have poisonous or nonbiodegradable byproducts.
“There’s a huge transition occurring today within the chemical business,” Flamini says. “And this transition is being accelerated by two elements.” The primary is coverage: The European Union is clamping down on 1000’s of dangerous substances and pushing industries to try to exchange them with one thing cleaner. The second driver is public consciousness of the doubtless dangerous affect on ecosystems of chemical compounds that don’t dissolve over time.
“We’re permitting the substitute of these out of date molecules, that are having a unfavorable affect on the planet, with new molecules that scale back CO2 emissions and are biodegradable and unhazardous,” he says. Flamini provides that the corporate has achieved a life-cycle evaluation on its plant-based solvent that exhibits it might reduce down CO2 emissions by 80 p.c in comparison with its fossil-fuel derived equal.
Flamini hopes to scale back the proportion of extracted oil that’s refined and used to make client merchandise—a proportion that can enhance as nations decarbonize, and which is predicted to hit 50 p.c by 2050. “Everyone seems to be speaking about preventing local weather change and decreasing CO2 emissions, however why are we not speaking concerning the petrochemical business, which impacts all of us each day?” he says.