Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ – turning plastic waste into furniture and fences. Rutto discusses the challenges faced in Africa with raw materials and the environment.

Nicodemus Muli, Artisan Ecopost, Sept. 16, 2014.Nicodemus Muli, Artisan Ecopost, Sept. 16, 2014.

Thirty-year old Nicodemus Muli is in the final stages of making a recycled plastic post. Three years ago Muli joined Ecopost, an environmental company that recycles plastic waste into useable products.

“I like working in Ecopost plastic processing because it helps me to bring up my family. And on top of that it helps us clean up the environment and to make posts, which are less harmful to the environment,” Muli stated.

Before the plastic becomes poles it goes through a series of steps. The plastic is first shredded into tiny bits in an industrial shredder. Muli then mixes the shredded plastic in a trough … where it is heated to compact the shredded bits. Finally the plastic mold is dipped in water to cool.

Ecopost began in 2009 and since then the company says it has preserved more than 350 acres of forests by selling 30,000 plastic posts. The plant, located in Babadogo on the outskirts of Nairobi produces 110 posts daily. A post costs approximately seven dollars.

A report released last July by the United Nations Environment Programmestates that reducing, recycling and redesigning products that use plastics can bring multiple green economy benefits. Environmentalist Roland Simiyu spoke to VOA about the benefits of recycling and its effect on the environment.

“Recycling reduces the amount of waste discarded, it creates job opportunities and it also reduces the amount of energy consumption. //  Now for future sustainability of environment it means people have to check their habit of consuming goods and services,” Simiyu said.

Lorna Rutto, Ecopost C.E.O., Sept. 16, 2014.Lorna Rutto, Ecopost C.E.O., Sept. 16, 2014.

In 2009, Lorna Rutto pooled around $4,000 from her savings, family and friends to begin EcoPost. Since then the enviropreneur has created more than 550 direct and indirect job opportunities.

“ … Especially for the youth and women groups who are marginalized. How we do it is we work with them by cleaning, collecting and sorting plastic waste which they bring into the factory for processing, then we manufacture it into various aesthetic durable fencing poles, sign posts and building and construction materials,” explained Rutto.

Two weeks ago EcoPost commissioned a new plant, which when fully operational will produce five hundred plastic posts a day, bringing closer to reality Rutto’s dream of a green Africa free from poverty.

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