Cox Enterprises has pledged to invest $25 million in environmentally sustainable companies and technologies — good news for cleantech startups as well as established companies looking for funding and also good for Cox’s business and environmental efforts, its executives say.
“Cox Enterprises has aggressive sustainability goals. We believe it’s not only smart for the environment, but it’s also good business,” Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises’ executive vice president of strategic investments, announcing the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action onstage at the 2016 CGI America meeting this week. “Our focus on the long-term demands that we protect our resources and leave the world in better condition than we found it.”
Cox Enterprises is the parent company of Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group.
Through these investments, which will be made over the next four years, the company aims to divert 3,000 tons of waste from landfills and prevent 20,000 tons of carbon from entering the environment. It will do this by helping bring new sustainability products and services to market and providing financial backing for further innovation.
Cox will identify companies and technologies to fund through its corporate strategy and investments and Cox conserves teams. It also invites companies and entrepreneurs to contact Cox directly, says spokesperson Elizabeth Olmstead.
“This is great for Cox’s business,” she said in an interview.
For example, fuel-efficiency technologies help the company save money on its 13,000-vehicle fleet. Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC units, as well as solar installations at Cox properties cut utility costs.
“About two years ago we expanded the goals of our sustainability program — it was originally only carbon — to include waste and water,” Olmstead said. “We have set some aggressive goals to be carbon and water (originally only carbon) to include waste and water, we have some aggressive goals to be carbon and water neutral by 2044 and send zero waste to landfill by 2024. We know investing in new technologies is going to help us meet these goals,” Olmstead said.
Cox is still identifying what types of environmental companies and technologies would qualify for investment but one that is on the radar is Piromak TD, an Italian company that has developed technology to recycle tires to their original components and then repurpose those materials.
“We’re also interested in finding new technologies in the alternative energy space and in tracking of materials and resources,” Olmstead says. “A lot of sustainability technologies out there can help you be predictive and monitor your usage to lessen your impact.”
Cox isn’t the only company investing millions in cleantech ventures.
The Closed Loop Fund — its investors include 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Walmart, among many other multinationals — has committed to invest more than $500 million in US recycling companies and projects by 2020. Its total to date is $6.5 million.
And in March, Veolia announced the winners of its new program that helps startups to fast-track their water-related technologies. It does this via cash prizes ($40,000 per recipient) and by connecting them to Veolia and other water industry experts who can support their company’s services, products and ideas.
Back to Cox’s investments: we’re looking forward to seeing which companies and technologies receive funding — and how their innovations can help save money and resources for all our benefit.
Don’t miss our Environmental Leader 2016 Conference in June.