Kleiner, Index Invest $34.5M in Rubber Recycler Lehigh

Rubber recycling startup Lehigh Technologies today confirmed that it recently received funding from green VC bigwig Kleiner Perkins and London-based Index Ventures. The five-year-old Naples, Florida-based startup, which freezes and pulverizes scrapped tires and sells the rubber powder, added that the investment came in at a sizable $34.5 million, and that existing investors NGP Energy Technology Partners and Florida Gulfshore Capital also participated in the round.

According to the release, this is actually Index Ventures’ first green investment. Index has a long history of success investing in Internet companies like Skype, so this is yet another example of a firm that’s done well with dot-com and is now dabbling in cleantech. As the Economist points out this week, it’s the same players all over again (and check out our own list of 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech.

Recycling and selling used rubber powder from used tires seems like it could be not only environmentally friendly but make these firms a significant return on investment. Unlike many startups that are in the R&D and experimental phase, Lehigh says that more than 30 million tires on U.S. roads contain some of the company’s powder. That powder comes from an 83,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Atlanta that can produce 100 million pounds of rubber powder per year. With this funding, Lehigh is looking to expand that production number.

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