On an otherwise reasonable evening, more than 1,000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2012 Unreasonable Institute. They came to see 23 ventures present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Lorna Rutto shares how her venture EcoPost is tackling the fact that Kenya faces the triple challenge of reducing poverty in line with its MDG commitments, managing its municipal solid waste and conserving its forests. EcoPost recycles waste plastic to manufacture durable plastic lumber which is used instead of wood for various applications such as fencing posts, sign posts, building and construction etc. These has reduced poverty by creating over 300 jobs to the youth and women who are marginalized and the business model will create over 100,000 jobs in the next 15 years. EcoPost has also eliminated over 1,000,000 Kgs of waste from the environment, sold over 20,000 posts thus saving over 250 Acres of forest and made over $USD 120,000 in revenue.
Ecopost generates enough revenue to cover its production costs and overheads and is already profitable with zero debt. We have more demand than we can supply thus need to expand. We are targeting the current contracts to fence game reserves and forests in Kenya worth millions of dollars. 200 km of Aberdares forest was recently fenced with plastic posts worth millions of $USD. Our posts are priced based on kilos of raw material. Our unit production cost is US$ 0.49 /KG and the selling price is US$ 0.82 /KG.
What is the urgent social or environmental need you’re addressing?
Kenya faces the triple challenge of managing its municipal solid waste, conserving its forests and reducing poverty in line with its MDG commitments. Every single day in Kenya we generate 10,000+ tones of garbage, 20% of which is plastic. Most of this is crudely dumped, littering the street, clogging the sewer and even encroaching people’s homes. This is compounded by inadequate policing rules, economic pressures, reluctant administrators and absence of viable disposal options. Only 2% of Kenya’s land mass is covered by forests owing to human settlement, land grabbing and illegal logging. About 222,000 acres of the Mau forest, Kenya’s largest indigenous forest has been destroyed. Over 50% of our youth in Kenya are unemployed or underemployed (Kenya National Bureau)
What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.
We are a social enterprise founded in 2009 with an aim to tackle the issues above. Our vision is “To Transform Africa’s Waste into Wealth”. We use waste plastic as a resource to manufacture aesthetic,durable (rot and termite resistance), easy to use and environmentally friendly plastic lumber.
Our aim is to create a sustainable solution to the growing plastic waste menace, provide a suitable alternative material so that we reduce the cutting down of trees and create job opportunities to reduce poverty. The plastic lumber is made from 100% recycled plastic and they range from 2 to 6 inches cross section (square/round) and 20 ft length depending on the clients need. It has various applications, it can be used as fence posts, sign posts, houses support beams, roofing trusses e.t.c