Founder: Robert Niven (CEO)
Headquarters: Nova Scotia
Funding: $11.1 million (PitchBook)
Key technologies: Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, nanotechnology
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 0
As Amazon continues to build and expand its e-commerce empire around the globe, so too does the company's carbon footprint.
It has nearly doubled its operations capacity in the past two years, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on the company's earnings call in February, and Amazon grew its number of U.S. fulfillment centers by 30% last year, according to consulting firm MWPVL International.
On top of that, Amazon is building out its HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, which includes more than 2 million square feet of new office space.
All that new construction and the concrete and cement that comes with it would likely otherwise make Amazon's goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 even harder. Cement makes up roughly 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study by Chatham House.
That's where sustainable construction materials start-up CarbonCure Technologies comes in.
Founded in 2012, CarbonCure's technology is retrofitted into concrete plants and lets producers inject captured carbon dioxide into fresh concrete during mixing. It then gets converted into a mineral embedded in the concrete, not only providing climate benefits but also increasing the concrete's strength.
CarbonCure says more than two million truckloads of its mixes have been used to supply construction sites, saving more than 164,000 metric tons of carbon, and counting — the CO2 data is updated in real-time on its website. It says it has sold over 580 of its systems to concrete producers worldwide.
That innovation put CarbonCure on Amazon's radar beyond just being involved in new construction. In 2020, CarbonCure was one of the first recipients of investment from Amazon's $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund venture investment program. It also received an investment from Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy, Microsoft, and BDC Capital.
In January 2021, CarbonCure announced a further investment from Mitsubishi Corporation and Carbon Direct, a carbon reduction-focused investment firm.
With more companies focusing on net-zero carbon plans — as well as the recent U.S. Executive Order around a sustainability plan that would require contractors to disclose the embodied carbon of building materials for new federal buildings and major modernization projects — the push for more sustainable concrete through carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology will likely increase.
"We witnessed the tech industry setting climate change trends with their adoption of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This investment in CDR signals a broader change for public and private infrastructure projects as industries and governments turn their focus toward the reduction of embodied carbon," CarbonCure CEO and co-founder Robert Niven said at the time of Amazon's investment.
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