Lorna Rutto – The ecopreneur turning trash to cash in Kenya’s urban slums through plastic recycling

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    Lorna Rutto grew up in the Kaptembwa Slums in Kenya where she experienced more than her fair share of poverty, unemployment, and overflowing sewers encroaching people’s homes.

    In particular as a young child, she was drawn to the level of plastic waste littering the environment. She decided to do something about it. At first she attempted to address the situation by recycling the plastic litter and making creative pieces of jewellery and small ornaments. She did this by melting the plastic, reshaping and decorating it into new objects. At that time, she sold her creative work at school to other pupils and friends for small amounts of money.

    Fast forward years later with a banking degree at hand, Lorna’s desire to rid her environment of plastic waste hadn’t waned. This led her to take the entrepreneurial plunge, leave the banking sector, and start up a business.

    Together with her co-founder, Charles Kalama, a biochemical engineering graduate from University College in London, they founded EcoPost in 2009, a green business manufacturing aesthetically pleasing, durable and environmentally friendly fencing posts utilising plastic waste.

    Today, EcoPost not only provides an effective solution to the management of the huge amounts of plastic waste created in Kenya each day, but also converts this waste into usable fencing products that in turn conserve forests that are under threat from logging.

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    EcoPost is also directly providing a solution to the terrible unemployment situation in the country, creating over 300 jobs for young people and women who were previously marginalised in society. The company’s business model is looking to create 100,000 jobs over the next 15 years. Its eco-footprint is no less impressive, with the company removing over 1 million kilos of plastic waste from Kenya’s urban slums, and saving around 250 acres of precious forest in the country.

    Lorna and her eco-business, EcoPosts, show the possibility of creating a viable and sustainable business in Africa that positively impacts on local communities and the environment.

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