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Kenyan entrepreneur turns trash into cash

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A Kenyan firm has discovered a way to turn plastic waste into a profitable business venture.

Lorna Rutto is the founder of Global Bio Energy, a company that manufactures fencing posts from recycled consumer plastic waste from Dandora, a slum in Kenya‘s capital city of Nairobi.

Lorno Rutto

Lorno Rutto

“Currently in Kenya thousand[s] of plastic bags and bottles litter our streets . . . and clog [our] sewers. Our business converts [this waste] into durable, affordable, cost effective and environmental friendly plastic poles,” Rutto explains.

According to Rutto, the initiative contributes to the environment by recycling waste and reducing the number of trees being cut-off. The project also creates employment opportunities.

“By creating an alternative to timber we can avoid an environmental crisis in future,” she says.

The project won Rutto, a 25-year old banker by profession, the WWF nature challenge national award that comes with a prize of 5,000 euros. She beat more the 120 contestants in the competition that attracted entrepreneurs with interests in organic agriculture, green energy production and waste management.

Rutto partnered with a friend, Charles Kalama, who was also previously unemployed.

She explains that once operational, the company will directly employ 24 individuals and create another 150 indirect jobs for waste collectors and garbage sorters.

“We are projecting being able to generate profits worth Ksh4.5million (US$58,000) per year once fully operational,” she says.

The biggest challenge facing the duo at the moment is the purchase of machines. Rutto asserts that the machinery used in setting up the plastic fencing poles extrusion plant is very costly.

Though they have purchased several machines and have set up a production plant at Kariobangi from the prize money, Rutto says that they need an additional Ksh4 million (US$52,000) to acquire other necessary equipment and become fully operational.

Rutto believes the business has potential because the only alternative to timber posts in the market are concrete and metal posts, but that these are too expensive. She adds that plastic poles are in demand due to their long term cost effectiveness since they require little maintenance and are durable as well as affordable.

“We are planning to increase our processing capacity, as well as introduce new products lines. These include roofing trusses, roofing tiles, support beams for low cost housing and plastic lumber for furniture making,” she says.


45 Responses to Kenyan entrepreneur turns trash into cash

  1. avatar
    Makao Bora '31 March 2015' at 13:45 #

    This is brilliant. these are the type of green innovations that we need to prevent as much as possible further damage to the enviroment.

  2. avatar
    naveen '11 January 2015' at 17:11 #

    this is a very good project which ur dealing mam . I would like to know more about it ,how can I get in contact with you , I live in india .want to what is the capital and mechinery etc.i would be waiting for the reply
    thank you

  3. avatar
    Neerja Jolly '2 January 2015' at 09:55 #

    How can I get in touch with you as soon as possible, I have much interest in waste management and would love to do something like this. I am living in India. What is the initial cost of the project?Do get in touch soon.

  4. avatar
    Joshwa Tambo '18 December 2014' at 15:38 #

    How can i get intouch with you as soon as possible, I have high interest in this technology, am living and working in Kibera slum and founded Kibera Community Empowerment Organization. How much are your cost of poles?

  5. avatar
    Joe Kim maico '11 November 2014' at 01:35 #

    How much is the post and can they hold a concrete chatter

  6. avatar
    Daniel '18 October 2014' at 16:07 #

    i have a plastic shredding machine for easier packaging and transportation of plastic wastes based in mombasa and i can supply you with tonnages of shredded and graded raw materials please get back to me soonest… am looking forward to your positive response

  7. avatar
    Nicholas Muli '30 July 2014' at 17:23 #

    Hi Am Nicholas from Nairobi, where can i buy the posts? and how much per pc?
    thanks

  8. avatar
    Miriam Njeri '3 July 2014' at 13:30 #

    My name is Miriam Njeri from an IT institution called Akirachix along Ngong road, Bishop Magua to be precise.
    I have a question, how do you gather scrap for recycling and what difficulties do you face while bringing them together much enough for recycling? what improvements would you like in your line of trade? do you buy the garbage? where do you get them from?
    I will appreciate your response.
    Kind regards.

  9. avatar
    alex kigathi '11 June 2014' at 09:30 #

    I am a dairy products (yorghut) producer with a steady supply of used plastic bottles and jerricans . Please contact me to see hoe we can help in disposing them.

  10. avatar
    carolyns cherop '10 June 2014' at 14:48 #

    hy lorna i would like to supply you with lastics pls how much is a kilo pls

  11. avatar
    Joseph Kamau '16 October 2013' at 07:31 #

    Where can I buy the posts.

  12. avatar
    Anna '2 March 2013' at 13:53 #

    You dont respond on this site, you dont respond to emails, I am so astounded, big business??

  13. avatar
    Anna '27 January 2013' at 12:08 #

    I am truly suprised, your contact details are valid or not, I have tried to email several times now but no reply, what is your story here please??

  14. avatar
    Anne '17 January 2013' at 14:27 #

    A good project to start in Kenya but I do feel you should give credit to the company that has been making these fencing posts for many years! I am astounded that WWF did not do more research before warding this prize!

    Please view this video for proof.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JQYwF4VyiY

  15. avatar
    Anna '16 January 2013' at 17:09 #

    May I say a huge congrats, what you are doing is just great, in this world of now, its all about “recycling” so please give it your all, & continue to search for other products that you can make from waste.
    I hope you can urgently give me your contact details, I am awaiting them. Hopefully by now, you also have all the machinery in place. I wish you well.

  16. avatar
    Y Nakamura '6 January 2013' at 13:21 #

    As a woman, I’m so proud of you! We all know that chances are scattered around us all the time. But how many of us can be wised up and take advantage of those opportunities like you did? I hope your business can find the way into not only developing countries but also well-established urban cities where people throw away tons of plastic bottles without thinking of where those waste going in the end. Your kind of people will save the planet.

  17. avatar
    patrick gichomo '16 November 2012' at 07:25 #

    Was very impressed by the initiave. looking forward to come and see your factory and also do some business in naivasha. you are am hero

  18. avatar
    mr stephen '30 October 2012' at 14:41 #

    I would like to use your products,how can i get them and do you deliver to site on purchase?please inform
    what,s the price for 4” * 8′ post.

  19. avatar
    Dorcas Omari '24 October 2012' at 17:11 #

    Hi Lorna,

    I would like to know the size and costs of your product, and the minimum number one can order.

    Dorcas.

  20. avatar
    Llewellyn Whitfield '3 June 2012' at 20:56 #

    Hi Lorna
    Great idea. Can we discuss business ideas. Regards
    Llewellyn

  21. avatar
    Dunsson '30 May 2012' at 15:25 #

    Lorna, Great idea, am sure there is potential all over. Can we talk business? Reply to my email address.

  22. avatar
    Beaty K '28 April 2012' at 12:51 #

    Kudos!Great mind.I am motivated.

  23. avatar
    jay shah '19 April 2012' at 11:31 #

    good idea.

  24. avatar
    Vincent Kago '8 March 2012' at 08:43 #

    Hi, i am in the construction industry and wish to recomend your products for usage. please provide me with your contacts/physical address,and relevant technical specs ie. Kebs approval,price/s,wroting,absorbency,tensile strength,weight,colour/s,diameter/s,length/s,shape/s,fixing components,durability,fragility,casting depths and materials adaptabilitity with barbed wire, chainlink,timber off-cuts/other plastic members.

  25. avatar
    John Mark '22 February 2012' at 09:24 #

    I need your contacts. am very interested in these poles. please

  26. avatar
    elizabeth '8 February 2012' at 13:49 #

    hi, may i have your contacts as i need plastic poles

    Regards

  27. avatar
    peter mwangi '14 January 2012' at 12:43 #

    hi
    need to know your location,i have a piece of land and would like to test your products cos the wooden ones are likely to be temporary,are yours permanent?

  28. avatar
    dan '14 January 2012' at 06:59 #

    plastic poles need to buy where are they selling at what price is cost per pole

  29. avatar
    stephen kiragu '28 December 2011' at 13:47 #

    Love your Idea, always inspirational to come across young innovative Kenyan’s. Keep up.
    Is it possible to know the prices of the post n where to locate them?
    thanx

  30. avatar
    Piyush '8 December 2011' at 11:43 #

    Hi we have all type of solid plastics fencing posts so any one can send email for your good inquiry or you can log in to our web http://www.a-oneplastics.com

  31. avatar
    kenneth '22 November 2011' at 11:38 #

    Good work my sister. i am project manager in an NGO so from one the major slums in nairobo and would like to have a partnership wiht you and your company. is it possible please you can contact.

  32. avatar
    Susan Kahiri '17 October 2011' at 13:59 #

    Cograts for this great venture. I am interested in buying your products. I am looking for plastic fencing poles of (approx 7ft). Please do let me know the following:
    (i)if it is possible to get abt 35 pieces
    (ii) The Cost per piece
    (iii) If the posts can be destroyed by termites.

    Kindly reply.

    Susan from Utawala.

  33. avatar
    Charles Olwe '20 August 2011' at 19:45 #

    Well, done. I would actually like to buy your products. I am looking for Cranked plastic posts (approx 10ft). Please do let me know if possible.

  34. avatar
    Stella Simiyu '19 August 2011' at 09:53 #

    Congratulations on the great venture. I would also like to visit if possible. Let us know.

  35. avatar
    Moses kiarie '4 July 2011' at 09:05 #

    great work Lorna . i just wanted to enquirer on were your company is and on if i could get a visit of the company ill be looking forward to visiting your company

  36. avatar
    benjamin '3 July 2011' at 13:25 #

    hi lorna. congrats for great job. i would wish to visit your company on 10th september to learn the whole process. is it possible

  37. avatar
    GITAU MURAGURI '21 June 2011' at 18:12 #

    Lorna,

    Keep it up!!!

    great stuff – and thanks for cleaning up our environment

    G

  38. avatar
    Walter Kipruto '6 February 2011' at 13:18 #

    Congratulations for the great venture. This is the way to go. “Waste is not a menace, Waste is wealth”

  39. avatar
    Lorna Rutto '1 July 2010' at 17:56 #

    Thank you so much. My contact details are:

    P.O Box 3703 – 00506
    Nairobi.
    Email: cherrychesh@yahoo.com
    Tel: 0721953768 / 0725351032

    Call me for any inquiries.

  40. avatar
    Dorcas Mburu '4 June 2010' at 08:28 #

    I am an Administrator for an NGO called care of Creation and would like to get your contact regarding the plastic posts…we have a piece of land that needs fencing and since we are in environment stewardship I believe your product would be best suited for us.

    So kindly let me know how I can get in touch with you as soon as possible

  41. avatar
    Omilo Omilo '5 May 2010' at 11:44 #

    What a creative way to make money while at the same time protecting the environment.An excellent venture.

  42. avatar
    MarkSpizer '3 May 2010' at 10:40 #

    great post as usual!

  43. avatar
    Julius Kones '3 May 2010' at 07:19 #

    Contacts details. Am interested in the products

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  1. Tube - '27 October 2010'

    PFV Very inspiring submit, Thank you !! -ZO….

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