How can we feed the planet while respecting nature’s resources and biodiversity? This question guides the daily life of all Ÿnsecters, and puts impact at the heart of everything we do. As our initiatives broaden, we are giving the floor to others helping to change the world, offering alternatives, and contributing to a more sustainable society. Today, we meet Jérémy Pessiot, Founder, Managing Director and Chief Innovation Officer of AFYREN, a company seekings alternatives, by replacing petroleum-based products. AFYREN and Ÿnsect share the same ambition: to find sustainable solutions to the major challenges of our time, and to protect biodiversity. We had the opportunity to meet Jérémy Pessiot to discuss how AFYREN operates, the use of technology for the environment and the values that guide their employees daily.
Can you tell us about AFYREN in a few words?
AFYREN is the result of ten years of work that proves that ecology and economy can be reconciled. We create bio-sourced products – that is to say, products obtained from renewable raw materials derived from biomass – from plants for example, particularly beetroot. These products allow us to replace existing products made from petroleum, which can be found in all kinds of markets: human and animal food, cosmetics, chemicals, etc. We wanted to reinvent the industry and reduce its impact on the environment.
Our vision is to innovate production methods and consumption to conserve the environment while creating value and jobs. To date, few companies have succeeded in switching from the lab to a full-sized industrial project. In this sense, AFYREN and Ÿnsect are pioneers.
Why did you choose to use technology for the environment? How does your technology change the world?
Our technology works with a very large variety of complex substrates, rather than just one, like with traditional bio-techs. We can use anything that can be fermented, such as plants or agro-industrial co-products. Thanks to our desire to align ecology and economy, we favor local and circular economy approaches. Therefore, our goal is to make use of the biomass surrounding our production sites. We have quite a decentralized approach, with many factories spread across the world serving local markets.A
FYREN is a company close to the people: we are rooted in local communities, serving ambitious issues. We concern ourselves with three main areas: global warming, the circular economy, and the environmental protection. We must grow responsibly in order to provide what society needs, but by always respecting our environment. We want to provide a double solution: using co-products and use technology to valorise them and make them natural products, requested by the industry.
You have started building your new green chemistry plant in Moselle, could you tell us more about it ?
You could say it’s a new factory, but it’s first and foremost our first factory! It is the result of ten years of work. It’s a world premiere: nobody has ever done what we are doing! This factory is integrated into a petrochemical site to produce 16,000 tons of acid per year. It will enable us to use local raw materials, particularly beetroot’s co-products, to minimize our environmental footprint and serve local markets. It is a strategic location for both raw materials and proximity to our customers. We wanted to build our first factory in France, but the aim is to roll out this model all over the world in the long term by developing resources and addressing local markets.
How do you measure your impact?
We have been working for several years with specialized agencies to conduct life cycle analyses on our products. These have shown a reduction of more than 80% in greenhouse gas emissions when comparing our products to petroleum-based products. We are going to follow this analysis up with action. At the same time, we are working on our CSR strategy, which will be implemented in the coming months and years. We, actually, recruited our CSR Director over a year ago and we are going to identify indicators to measure our impact and set objectives. The social side of things is extremely important to us, particularly with the creation of our factory. It is proof that we are capable of reconciling environmental protection and job creation. There are many benefits of the creation of the new factory for the secor as a whole. The idea is to constantly move forward and build the company’s future on the most solid foundations possible.
Have you defined common values for your employees and how do you bring them to life while working remotely?
Yes, of course! We established them with our entire staff three years ago, and we continue to tweak them as time goes by, in order to bring them to life. We have three: humility because we do not claim to have done everything despite our ambition; agility, because we are adaptable, open-minded, and don’t limit ourselves; and, commitment, whether in our daily lives or in our environmental and development objectives. This is the daily work of our employees. Over the years, we have succeeded in building an extremely active, passionate, and strong team. We want to be judged for what we do, and that’s what we put all our energy into. The people who join us are not there by chance: they’ve join us for our mission but also our values and our people-centered approach of AFYREN.
In light of the health crisis, we’ve had to find solutions to maintain contact between the teams. We try to maximize the presence of the technical teams to make sure our projects are moving forwards. We also organize regular meetings to keep in touch, and get together every Friday for a collective “coffee break” !
How do you move forward on a daily basis?
We talk a lot and when we can, we see each other. We are quite informal: we keep each other in the loop without waiting for an official update. The little moments are very important to us. AFYREN’s culture is also based on two major pillars: kindness and high standards. We talk to each other a lot, and work towards the same goal. We want to maintain the right to make mistakes so that everyone can progress individually and collectively.
At Ynsect, we have defined 5 values: explorer, authenticity, adaptability, solidarity and balance. Among these, is there one that resonates more than the others for you, and why?
I would say explorer because without it, we would not have been able to develop our technology. This is what allows us to improve every day and prepare for the future.