Ever wondered what happens to Kenya’s plastic waste?
When many people see it as only waste Lorna Rutto, a Kenyan eco-preneur saw it as an opportunity to build something great. She created a social enterprise in response to the need to find alternative waste management solutions to Kenya’s huge plastic waste problem. She started making environmentally friendly fencing posts in Kenya back in 2009 and by 2011 she was recognized by the prestigious Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards as their laureate for sub-Saharan Africa.
We normally use timber for our fences but Lorna did created over 300 jobs and saved over 250 acres of forests.
With her passion over there was 1 million kilogrammes of plastic waste out of the environment. Her efforts have won her numerous plaudits and awards, both at home and abroad. Lorna’s journey begun from a slum, a slum known as the Kaptembwa slum. She knew too well what it meant to have an overcrowded jungle as a place to live, a slum that was filled with poverty, unemployment, garbage and rotting waste in the streets and clogged, overflowing sewers just around people’s homes. She noted that there were huge amounts of plastic waste that littered the environment.
So what did she do with the plastic she discovered?
She started recycling plastic litter and begun making creative pieces of jewelry and small ornaments by melting the plastic, reshaping and decorating it into new objects. She sold her creative work at school to other pupils and friends for small amounts of money, but it was a small step to becoming more environmentally aware. She then went and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting but she felt that there was more to life than banking.
She opened her own company known as ecopost.
Today, EcoPost is an entrepreneurial and an environmental corporate success story. The venture 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. 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. Going forward, the EcoPost 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.