International Journal of Information Engineering and Electronic Business(IJIEEB)

ISSN: 2074-9023 (Print), ISSN: 2074-9031 (Online)

Published By: MECS Press

IJIEEB Vol.14, No.5, Oct. 2022

Sustainable E-waste Management at Higher Education Institutions’ Data Centres in Zimbabwe

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Vusumuzi Maphosa

Index Terms

Electronic waste, data centre, higher educational institutions, green initiatives, sustainability


The study’s objective was to examine the management of data centre electronic waste (e-waste) by Zimbabwean universities to ensure environmental sustainability and reduce the epidemiological effect of indiscriminate disposal of e-waste. The 21st century has seen universities adopting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to automate processes and support technology-based learning, raising demands for data centre infrastructure to run applications and store data. In developing countries, obsolete ICT equipment is indiscriminately discarded with municipal waste into landfills and often scavenged to extract valuable metals using rudimentary methods such as heating, burning, and leaching, causing environmental and epidemiological crises. E-waste is the fastest growing stream of solid waste that contains scarce rare earth minerals and toxic elements, presenting an opportunity and a crisis during disposal. The study utilised the descriptive study design through a quantitative questionnaire to collect data from ICT Directors and Managers from Zimbabwean universities. Results show that a fifth of the participants had operational procedures for handling e-waste. A tenth of the participants knew of the existence of national policies. Obsolete equipment was kept in storerooms, while some were discarded with municipal trash. Most respondents were aware of the effect of e-waste, which is attributed to responsible management. Most participants redeployed decommissioned data centre equipment to less intense processing environments; 28% had labelled bins and designated e-waste collection points. In reducing their carbon footprint, three-quarters of the participants virtualised servers and stored data on the cloud, and 10% of the institutions practised take-back schemes and located data centres onsite. Universities should legislate the management of data centres to control carbon emissions, energy and e-waste and contribute to green initiatives. Partnerships with developed countries for data centre design and high-end recycling should be encouraged, thus creating employment, generating income for institutions and reducing the epidemiological effects.

Cite This Paper

Vusumuzi Maphosa, " Sustainable E-waste Management at Higher Education Institutions’ Data Centres in Zimbabwe", International Journal of Information Engineering and Electronic Business(IJIEEB), Vol.14, No.5, pp. 15-23, 2022. DOI:10.5815/ijieeb.2022.05.02


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