Home 54° Across Africa #TFAAspotlight: Lorna Rutto, environmental activist and passionate ecopreneur

#TFAAspotlight: Lorna Rutto, environmental activist and passionate ecopreneur

Lorna Rutto is an entrepreneur who founded Ecopost in 2010 – a Nairobi-based company that recycles plastic waste.

Lorna was troubled by this plastic litter ever since she was a schoolgirl. At the time she used to collect bits left lying around and turn them into earrings, “though it wasn’t really the earrings I was interested in—I just wanted to find a way to get rid of all that plastic!” After graduating in commerce and accounting, she started a career in banking to play safe in a tough employment market, but “something felt wrong; I was working on systems and structures and not with people and science, which had been my other passion at school. I wasn’t comfortable about it.” She, afterwards, took the entrepreneurial plunge.

What else about Lorna’s Ecopost?

  1. ‘Ecopost is a social enterprise that addresses the challenges of urban waste management (plastic pollution), chronic youth unemployment, deforestation and climate change.’
  2. Ecopost aims ‘to create sustainable jobs for people in marginalised communities and conserve our environment.’
  3. Every month, EcoPost uses approximately 20 tonnes of plastic waste. Utilising dirty plastic to make a product that saves wood is not just an environmental plus, it boosts employment: alongside its permanent staff, to source its raw material EcoPost hires the services of hundreds of women working as casual labour to collect the plastic and sell it to them by the kilo.
  4. For climate change mitigation – ‘Over 160 million kgs of CO2 emissions mitigated, 1.14 billion kgs to be mitigated over the next 10 yrs.’
  5. Socioeconomic impact – ‘create and expand markets for waste materials that would have otherwise been discarded. We are committed to environmental excellence that is integrated with a business‐wide approach to sustainability.’

Now Lorna:

  1. In 2011, Lorna was recognised by the prestigious Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards as their laureate for sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. In 2014, she was nominated for The Future Africa Awards Prize in Technology.
  3. Lorna has not only provided Kenya with a commercial alternative to timber, but has in the process created over 300 jobs, generated much needed revenues, saved over 250 acres of forests and taken over 1 million kilogrammes of plastic waste out of the environment.
  4. Still in 2014, she won the Green Award by the Transform Kenya Awards, a joint initiative of the Standard Group and Deloitte in recognition of her work.
  5. She previously won the World Wildlife Fund’s Nature Award, 2010 SEED Award, the 2009 Enablis Business Award, the 2010 Bid Network Nature Challenge Award.

All these awards couldn’t have come by if I gave up along the way to make Ecopost what it is now. It took a lot of patience and passion…passion for the environment,” says Lorna.

Lorna Rutto is the future!



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