Is the American market ready for more plastic products — like packaging, automotive interiors, and artificial leather — made from recycled materials? The energy-focused arm of private equity firm Silver Lake and venture firm Kleiner Perkins hope so. This week the investors announced that they’ve backed a German recycled plastics processing and manufacturing company called Friedola Tech with $40 million.
The funds make Silver Lake Kraftwerk the majority share owner, and the deal is the first co-investment by Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Kleiner Perkins. The investors bought major share equity from private equity firm WHEB Partner, who remains an investor.
The new investment will help Friedola Tech open up a new facility in Greenville, South Carolina. Friedola Tech already has a North American division in Greenville, which has been operating under the name ConPearl North America.
Friedola Tech both recycles incoming waste materials and also processes those materials and makes products out of them. Recycled plastic products that Friedola Tech makes include plastics for the automotive sector (think car interiors and seat fixtures), packaging (like large, sealed containers) and artificial leather (picture car seat covers).
It’s not surprising that recycling innovation is coming out of Germany, and being used in the U.S. Germany has one of the most sophisticated recycling systems in Europe, and the U.S. has a pretty poor history of reusing and recycling goods.
This is one of the few investments that Silver Lake Kraftwerk has done in a while — the private equity firm invests in growth companies and is particularly focused on international markets. They were trying to raise a $1.2 billion fund over a year ago, but more recently closed on $350 million, according to Dow Jones VentureWire this summer. Previously they also backed matured solar installer SolarCity.
Silver Lake Kraftwerk has backing from George Soros. The investors in the fund include former Foundation Partner Adam Grosser, former DFJ Partner Raj Atluru, and former DOE exec Cathy Zoi.