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After a $3.2 billion exit, tech entrepreneur founds carbon removal start up

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(Kitco News) - A bad experience buying carbon offsets inspired Peter Reinhardt to found Charm Industrial.

Last week Reinhardt spoke to Kitco about his carbon removal company.

The carbon market is potentially a big opportunity. According to The World Bank, the estimated value of the voluntary carbon market in 2021 was $1 billion. The market is set to grow. According to a study by BloombergNEF, the trade in carbon credits could reach $1 trillion by 2030.

Before starting Charm Reinhardt and some associates founded Segment, a data analytics company. Segment found market fit and was eventually bought by Twilio in 2020 for $3.2 billion.

Reinhardt started his new company due to his past poor experience buying carbon offsets at Segment. He was told that the offsets he bought were going to Amazon and Indonesian rainforest protection.

"When we went and purchased these offsets, the deeper we dug into it, the more disappointed we became. It was super opaque as to what actually happened when we spent that money," noted Reinhardt.

"How do you guarantee contractually that something isn't going to get cut down for a thousand years. I don't think anyone has any way to do that," said Renhardt.

Charm's technology uses plant waste, such as corn stalks, to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. Plants are converted into a biomass, what the company describes as a stable, carbon-rich liquid. The biomass is then pumped into the ground.

Reinhardt emphasizes that the technique is carbon removal. Carbon is bond into a mass before it is put underground.

Charm Industries has pricing plans on its site. Businesses start at $150 a month with carbon removal set at 1 million years permanence.

Reinhardt likes the opportunity.

"The climate problem is going to demand that we go rebuild many, many trillions of dollars' worth of infrastructure, and so there's just a huge opportunity," said Reinhardt.

A lot of companies have entered the carbon market due to the opportunity. In March the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market released a report on the offset market, which is seeking to tighten what counts as a proper credit against carbon emissions. 

"Most of the market is garbage, so that requires something more than an incremental improvement," said Reinhardt.

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