A resident of Saint Barthélemy for the past eight years, Pierre-Antoine Guibout was trained as a lawyer but is an entrepreneur at heart. He quickly understood the disastrous problem the sargassum causes for the island’s beaches, and he began to research possible solutions.
His first project: to turn it into shoe polish, for the brand Cygne Noir, which he owns. But that did not work out due to chemical incompatibility.
He then decided to use it in creating packaging for the shoe polish and did his first experiments in his kitchen. After several months of work, the alchemy was finally a success and Pierre-Antoine was able to create pulp, that when dry, looked more and more like a sheet of paper…
Pierre-Antoine contacted the laboratory at CEVA, (center for the study and enhancement of algae) to certify his invention. The first results were more than positive: they showed that the sargassum pulp has the same cellulosic properties as paper and cardboard. Even better, the heavy metal analysis showed levels equivalent to those classically found in packaging paper and cardboard.
Following these first discoveries, Sargasse Project was named a laureate in the Start category for the Overseas Innovation
Competition. Of 130 applicants, only 22 were retained as finalists. On the evening of the awards ceremony, the participants were invited to pitch their projects in front of a group of 400 people, including the former Overseas Minister.
“Transform our obstacles into opportunity, that’s a wonderful message,” said Giradin, former Overseas Minister.
Sargasse Project also received the Jury’s Special Mention at the BNP Paribas “Act for Impact” pitch during the Change Now Summit.
Over the next few months, the goal of Sargasse Project is to set up a first pilot program. On a surface of approximately 150 square meters, the idea is to treat 6,000 tons of seaweed that washed up on the island and transform it into 250-kilo packets of pulp. This raw material can then be shipped to businesses interested in the fabrication of products that respect the environment.
If the commercialization of the project is as successful as planned, the objective would be to duplicate the same type of production facility on other Caribbean islands, notably Guadeloupe and Martinique.
An since sargassum seaweed constitutes a resource whose availability is somewhat unquantifiable, the company is also exploring the possibility of working with other species of algae…