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Sustainable electronic waste management at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal: developing an integrated waste management plan using the W.R.O.S.E model.

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Electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream in the world and is increasing exponentially, this growth poses a significant problem in the current waste management systems. The current waste management systems, worldwide, are not designed to manage ewaste, and therefore most of the e-waste is mismanaged. E-waste is the most valuable waste stream, as it contains a high concentration of precious metals (as compared to primary minerals), however, it has a significant concentration of toxic material. The mismanagement of e-waste can have disastrous effects on both human health and the environment. This study focused on improving the e-waste management of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN). UKZN was selected because Universities are considered the frontier for research and development, and often establish higher standards for social responsibility and environmental conservancy than other institutions. The objectives were to firstly investigate the current e-waste management practices, to determine the appropriate strategies that were used to create an integrated waste management plan (IWMP). The required data for the study was obtained using a structured questionnaire, as it allowed for both the qualitative and quantitative data to be collected at once. The questionnaires were distributed across all five campuses and the data was collected. The analysed data established that UKZN generates a significant volume of e-waste, and the respondents confirmed that UKZN did not have an e-waste management plan and rather ewaste was treated as ordinary waste. Positive feedback from the respondents suggests that they would be accepting of an e-waste management plan. The IWMP was designed based on the potential volume, composition, and expected quality of the waste stream. The strategies employed were evaluated to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainability, in both the short term and long term. The IWMP was designed to help create a circular economy and to ensure that e-waste is managed sustainably, and the resources are conserved. The study concluded by demonstrating that it was possible to manage e-waste sustainably, thereby not endangering either human health or the environment while still being economically feasible.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.