[Update] Turning Unwanted Goods Into New Sales, Optoro Raises $50 Million

[Update: Through his own investment fund, Generation Investment Management, former Vice President and KPCB Green Growth Fund partner Al Gore added $10 million to the company’s funding as of early Wednesday morning.]

Optoro has raised $50 million to expand its business turning unwanted items into new sales for businesses.

Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Green Growth Fund, with participation from returning investors Revolution Growth, Grotech Ventures and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, the new round for Washington-based Optoro is the latest example of firms finding sustainable investment opportunities in businesses far removed from the capital-intensive industry of energy generation.

The company works with retailers to re-sell returned and excess inventory. Roughly 15 percent of all goods are either returned or unsold, according to a statement from the company. That unwanted inventory totals over $500 billion — and presents a logistical conundrum for retailers and the municipalities that end up storing that waste in landfills.

“Optoro’s proven cloud platform captures that value for retailers and consumers by efficiently finding new homes — not landfills — for returned goods,” says KPCB partner John Doerr, neatly summarizing the company’s green benefits.

Either through their own sales channels, secondary sellers like Amazon.com, eBay or on its own BLINQ.com site, customers can buy anything from electronics like game systems, smartphones, and tablets to power tools, to Christian Louboutin high-tops.

“Since we first invested in Optoro last year, we have seen a major transformation in the way that mainstream retailers approach one of their most costly challenges – managing excess and returned inventory,” said Revolution Growth co–founder and Optoro board member Ted Leonsis.

According to KPCB partner and Optoro board member, Daniel Oros, the company is generating significant revenue and is in an attractive market. It’s actually the second supply chain or logistics company in the Green Growth Fund, alongside HYLA Mobile.

Competitors include eBay, which has a business managing auctions for liquidated items, and GenCo, which provides logistics services for retailers.

“Our solution is bringing cutting-edge technology to a truly antiquated industry,” said president and co-founder Adam Vitarello in a statement. “What’s especially powerful is our win-win-win proposition: Better value for our clients, amazing deals for consumers, and a healthier planet through more efficient use of existing resources.”