By Eng. Daniel KINITI


1.1 Background of the study

Globalization has been realized through the growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) worldwide which in turn has resulted into huge amounts of e-waste because of the amount and dynamic short-life nature of the equipment. Electronic Waste (E-waste) is one of the fastest-growing pollution problems worldwide given the presence of a variety of toxic substances which can contaminate the environment and threaten human health if disposal protocols are not meticulously managed (Peernart, Ravi & Ming, 2013). E-waste is an emerging problem as well as a business opportunity of increasing significance, given the volumes of e-waste being generated and the content of both toxic and valuable materials in them (Widmer,Heid, Deepali,Scheneilillmann&Heinz, 2005).

Management of e-waste involves a complex of decision making variables when choosing the disposal method. A decision maker or manager should analyze all the available methods to arrive at some economic, effective and environmentally sensitive management strategy to dispose e-waste. Before concluding on a particular choice, the decision maker has to do some evaluation by either assigning a quantitative value to each alternative or by providing information which clarifies properties of the alternatives (Nutt, 2007).

1.1.1 E-waste in Kenya

Kenya like other countries has embraced ICT in both public and private sectors. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) made a draft e-waste management policy in 2011 whose enforcement is far from implementation. As such, the country is facing the challenge of accumulated e-waste whose handling and disposal has not been substantively addressed by the present environmental laws. Lack of segregation and poor disposal systems has led to mixing of e-waste with other municipal waste.

A study by Waema, Wanjira, Finlay and Schluep (2008) on ‘‘E-waste in Kenya” attempted to create a baseline assessment by investigating the strengths and weaknesses of the prevailing situation of handling e-waste in Kenya.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

E-waste contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium which are harmful to both human beings and the environment. The rapid growth of the amount of e-waste and the ineffectiveness of legislation has led to inappropriate management of e-waste disposal in Kenya with profound impacts on the environment and human beings. In year 2014 Kenya generated 1 kg/inhabitant (kg/inh) of e-waste annually (Baldé, Wang, Kuehr& Huisman, 2015). E-waste contaminates soil, water and air. Poor recycling and disposal practices result in the poisoning of many local people engaged with the recycling process.

A study by Okeyo and Wangila (2012) at the Kenyan coast established that a battery recycling factory produced toxic effluent to Owino-Uhuru village which affected children’s health whose Blood Lead Levels (BLL) was found to be as high as 23 µg/dl against the World Health Organization (WHO) levels of 5 µg/dl.Appendix 1 shows detailed health effects of e-waste constituents.Effects of the poisoning will be felt long into the future.In light of this, the research proposal aims at investigating the underlying reasons for e-waste disposal strategies adopted by utility companies some of which are now large generators.

1.3 Research Objectives

1.3.1 General Objective

To examine determinants of e-waste disposal strategiesby utility companies in Kenya.

1.3.2 Specific Objectives

  1. To determine the influence of stakeholder awareness on e-waste disposal by utility companies in Kenya.
  2. To assess the mass flow effect of e-waste disposal by utility companies in Kenya.
  3. To analyze the influence of finance scheme on e-waste disposal by utility companies in Kenya.
  4. To investigate the influence of infrastructure on e-waste disposal by utility companies in Kenya.
  5. To investigate the moderating effect of regulations on e-waste disposal by utility companies in Kenya.
  • Justification of the Study

The study will benefit various stakeholders to support policy makers in drafting fact-based policies and creation of the infrastructure to manage e-waste particularly at utility companies within Kenya. Environmentalists and NEMA will benefit in creation of green jobs and eradication of poverty. It will contribute to the body of knowledge to assist the scholarly community doing research and in particular strategic management of e-waste on the advancement of science. Since e-waste is generated from all industries, the study will assist universities’ academic approach on the multidisciplinary activities involved in e-waste disposal.

 1.6       Scope of the Study

The study focusses on utility companies in Kenya which include companies and organizations which provide services to the public especially water, electricity and telecommunications. The individuals who deal with e-waste in these companies will form the population of the study. The study samples will be drawn from these individuals.

The study addresses e-waste as applied in ICT which is limited to personal and desktop computers, laptops, notebooks (Ipads), Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors, flat panel monitors, Liquid Crystal Display (LCDs) panels and Thin Film Transistor (TFT) monitors and printers.


2.1 Introduction

This chapter will consider theoretical as well as empirical literature and conceptual framework. Theories put forward by various writers will be explored. The chapter will also review literature on the determinants of e-waste disposal by Utility companies. Critic of various literatures will be outlined. The chapter concludes with the discussion of the research gap.

2.2 Theoretical Review

This study has made reference to fourtheories. The first one is Waste Management Theory (WMT) which is a conceptual description of waste management, providing definitions of all waste-related concepts, and suggesting a methodology of waste management. The second one is awareness theory which is a concept applied in many fields of science, philosophy and economics realized through a process of recognition of certain features in an object. The third theory is the Game theory which deals with the process of competitive interaction and involves the knowledge that deals with making decisions when two or more intelligent and rational opponents are involved under conditions of conflict and competition. The fourth is Resource-Based View (RBV) theory which helps organizations that wish to maintain a distinctive product (competitive advantage) to will plug gaps in resources and capabilities in the most cost-effective manner (Krim, 2003).

2.3 Empirical Review

Before the 1980s, disposal of e-waste was considered to be an insignificant phenomenon as their quantities and distribution globally was low and the toxic compound in them was never an issue.

Today e-waste is a real problem due to growth in mobile technology and ICT in all aspects of people’s life’s starting from home appliances, office equipment to industrial applications. Many academicians have researched on e-waste and its management and explored factors to be considered when handling the toxic elements to ensure environmental sustainability while maintaining economic viability. These elements will form the main contents of our discussion. These include stakeholder awareness, Mass flow, Infrastructure, Financing Schemes and Regulations as a moderating determinant.

A planned strategy for e-waste disposal has the potential to deliver a competitive advantage through allowing the organization to offer products that are environmentally sustainable (Esty and Charnovitz, 2012). Such as a strategy will create environmentally sustainable jobs while ensuring profitability. The firm will gain carbon credit rating received for environmental sustainability compliance.

2.4Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework depicted by Figure 2.1 illustrates the relationships that exist between the dependent and independent variables under study. The dependent variable is the disposal of e-waste. The independent variables that will be investigated to establish their level of influence on the dependent variable are Stakeholder awareness, Mass flow determinant, Financing schemes, Infrastructure determinant and finally regulations as a moderating determinant.

2.5 Critique of the Existing Literature Relevant to the Study

The studies so far conducted on e-waste management have concentrated on household electronics and how the waste was recycled. The government departments investigated were enjoined in the studies mainly to investigate their agency role in regulatory enforcements and policy frameworks.  The government itself is a big generator of e-waste. The way the departments within it handle e-waste has not been thoroughly investigated.

Tocho and Waema (2013), and Gathuka (2013)investigated a number of government institutions and parastatals including the University of Nairobi. The findings on how e-waste disposal was handled is not well explained other than that the disposal strategies are determined by the disposal regulations of 2005. The studies focused on E-waste framework formulation and concentrated on the public households. The sample of 67 respondents was also quite small to enable generalization of their results to the larger population.

2.6 Research Gaps

Most of the research carried out in Kenya has mostly investigated e-waste management from the point of view of regulatory and policy frameworks. This is confirmed by the work of Waema et al. (2008), Tocho&Waema (2013), Gathuka (2013) and, Ndolo & Omwenga (2015). E-waste management and its implication to the strategic competiveness of a firm has not been investigated as a distinct subject.

E-waste has not been recognized as hazardous by many stakeholders. It therefore has not been given prominence and priority especially in under developed countries including Kenya.  Very few scholars have undertaken research in this field in local universities and institutions. Due to lack of exclusive e-waste legislation and enforcement, the problems associated with e-waste handling have not been addressed optimally. Various issues on e-waste have been addressed through the e-waste framework in Kenya (Tocho&Waema, 2013). However there exist a lot of gaps in the data (mass flow) of e-waste in Kenya. This creates a research gap.

2.7 Summary of Reviewed Literature

In this chapter literature from different authors was explored on the subject of e-waste.  The theoretical Literature section has outlined five main theories which can be used to explain e-waste disposal. Game theory has been used by several writers to summarize the behaviour of e-waste stakeholders. These theories explore the theoretical models that agents can employ in explaining the determinants of waste disposal.


3.1 Introduction

This chapter will cover research design, population, sample and sampling techniques, data collection instruments, pilot test, data reliability and validity, and data processing and analysis. The sections’ discussions are in relation to the proposed study objectives.

3.2 Research Design

Survey design will be employed in this study. According to Saunders, Lewis, and Thornbill (2009) survey design is a popular method to answer who, what, where and how questions. Quantitative data analysis using questionnaires will be used to find out the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. Various analytical tools will be used to establish the required statistics as specified in details under the analysis section of this chapter.

3.3Target Population

The study focusses on utility companies in Kenya which include companies and organizations which provide services to the public especially water, electricity and telecommunications. The officers in these firms who deal with e-waste will form the target population within the utility companies.

3.4 Sampling Frame

The sampling frame proposed for this study will constitute the officers involved in E-waste handling for each utility company. The interviewees will be officers including functional and operational officers in the departments within the utilities. These are considered to be key informants for this research. The interviewees are expected to be involved in e-waste disposal process. Sample frame is shown in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1

Sampling Frame

Utility Firm Number of Officers
Kengen HQ 14
Ketraco HQ 23
Airtel 52
Safaricom HQ 37
Orange 34
County HQ (47) 765
TOTAL 1184

Note.  HQ=Headquarter; Source: Human Resource Registry at the Utility Companies

3.5 Sample Size and Sampling Technique

When the target population is finite, the formula (Krejcie& Morgan, 1970) may be used to determine the sample size.

The study will apply simple random sampling technique to arrive at the sample size of 290 determined in Section 3.5.1. Random sample spacing = 1184/290 ≈ 4.

Proportional stratified random sampling will be used to allocate strata sample size using.

Table 3.2

Strata Sample Size

Utility Firm Strata Population


Strata Sample size (ni)
GDC HQ 46 11
Kengen HQ 14 4
Ketraco HQ 23 6
KPLC HQ 142 35
REA HQ 71 17
Airtel 52 13
Safaricom HQ 37 9
Orange 34 8
County HQ (47) 765 187
TOTAL 1184 290

Note.  HQ=Headquarter, Ni= Population of strata and, ni is the sample size of the strata

 3.6 Research Instruments

The instruments proposed for this study include questionnaires, and open-ended questions. The questionnaire will include questions based on the five independent variables and one dependent variable. Open ended questions will assist to collect data that will allow for content analysis to prod the respondent to give wider views on e-waste issues.

3.7 Data Collection Procedure

The data collection procedure proposed for this study will make use of primary data which will be collected through face to face interviews with the researcher and by the use of questionnaires.Secondary data contained in company documents especially the inventories will be reviewed.

  • Pilot Test

The pilot test method proposed for this study will involve developing and testing the adequacy of the research instruments which will be administered on a small scale to a group of selected respondents. The pilot group will be as similar as possible to the target population and the size will be at most 10% of the target study samplewhich is 29 respondents.

3.9 Data Processing and Analysis

Data processing and analysis proposed for this study includes examination of the collected data to answer research questions. Data will be analyzed using qualitative and quantitative techniques.

3.9.1 Qualitative Data Processing and Analysis

Qualitative data analysis makes general statements on how categories or themes of data are related (Mugenda and Mugenda, 2003). The qualitative analysis will be done using content analysis. Content analysis is the systematic qualitative description of the composition of the objects or materials of the study (Kotter, 2002). It involves observation and detailed description of objects, items or things that comprise the object of study. 

3.9.2 Quantitative Data Processing and Analysis

After receiving the questionnaires from the respondents, the data will be coded and entered into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).  In this study, Logistic regression equations will be applied since the research aims at investigating the preferred disposal strategies (dependent variable) among various alternatives determined by various independent categorical variables.


Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R. &Huisman, J. (2015). The global e-waste monitor. United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, Bonn, Germany.

Esty, C. D. &Charnovitz, S. (2012). Green Rules to drive innovation. Harvard Business Review, March 2012. Retrieved from Https:// innovation

Gathuka, P. (2013). Factors influencing e-waste disposal in public organizations in Kenya: The case of University of Nairobi. Retrieved from http://erepository. /bitstream/ handle/11295/56073/

Krejcie, R. & Morgan, D. (1970). Determining Sample size for Research activities. Journal of Educational and Psychological Measurement, 30, 607-610. Retrieved from http:// home 

Krim, J. (2003). Patenting Air or Protecting Property? Information Age Invents a New Problem. Washington Post, Dec 11, E01

Ndolo, I., & Omwenga, J. (2015). Factors affecting successful roll – out of electronic waste management in Nairobi City County. International Journal of Social Sciences Management and Entrepreneurship,2(2), 151-165. Retrieved fromwww. Sage

Okeyo, B. &Wangila, A. (2012). Lead poisoning in Owino Uhuru slums in Mombasa-Kenya. Eco-ethics international- Kenya Chapter, 4, 8-19.

Peernart, K., Ravi, N. & Ming, H. (2013). Electronic waste Management approaches: An Overview. E-Waste Management Journal, 33, 1237 – 1250.

Saunders, P., Lewis, A., &Thornbill, A. (2009). Research Methods for Business Students. New York: Prentice Hall Press.

Tocho, A. &Waema, T.M. (2013). Towards an e-waste management framework in Kenya, Emerald insight Journal, 15,(5), 99–113.

Waema, T., Mureithi, M., Wanjira, A., Finlay, A. &Schluep, M. (2008). E-waste in Kenya: baseline assessment. Proceedings of the 19th Waste Management Conference of the IWMSA, 6-10 October, Durban, Disposal Mechanisms by South Africa.

Widmer, R., Heidi O., Deepali, S., Schnelillmann, M. & Heinz, B. (2005). Global perspectives on e-waste. Environmental Impact Assessment Review,25, 436– 458.

Appendix 1

Effects of E-Waste Constituents on Human Health

Substance and Use Environmental/Health Effect Reference

Used in circuit boards and

Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs)

Used in acid batteries

Accumulates and persists in plants, animals and microorganisms. It neither biodegrades nor dissolves. Damage to central and peripheral nervous system, circulatory system and kidneys; effects on endocrine system, serious adverse effects on brain development Nakagawa (2006),

Dyrud (2007)


Used in surface mount device

(SMD) chip resistors, semiconductors,

infrared detectors,

rechargeable batteries

Accumulates in the body, particularly in the kidneys and can lead to liver, lung and bone damage as well as renal failure. It is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen Puckett et al. (2002),

Dyrud (2007),

Schmidt (2002)


Used in thermostats, sensors,

relays and switches, discharge

lamps, medical equipment, mobile

phones, batteries, printed wiring

boards and circuit boards, data

transmission and telecomms

Inorganically spreads out in water, it is transformed to methylated mercury which accumulates in living organisms eg fish and spreads through the food chain. It can cause chronic brain, kidney, lung and foetal damage; increases in blood pressure and heart rate, allergic reactions, effects on brain function and memory; a possible human carcinogen Scanlon (2004),

Silicon Valley Toxics


(SVTC, 1999),

Schmidt (2002)

Hexavalent chromium

(Chromium IV)

Used for corrosion protection of

untreated and galvanized steel

plates and as a decorative or

hardener for steel housings

Causes asthmatic bronchitis and other allergic reactions. Also known to cause DNA damage Ramachandra and

Saira (2004)

Plastics including poly-vinylchloride

(PVC) Used in cabling and computer


Burning produces dioxin which causes reproductive and developmental problems;

immune system damage; interfere with regulatory hormones

Ramachandra and

Saira (2004)

Brominated flame retardants

Used in the plastic housings of

electronic equipment and in circuit boards to prevent flammability

Endocrine disruption; affects  foetal development; increased risk of cancers of the digestive and lymph systems Puckett et al. (2002),

Schmidt (2002


Used in older photocopying machines

(photo drums)

Hair and nail deformations and a condition called sclerosis may result, which manifests as a loss of feeling and control in

the limbs. Depending on the method of entry into the body, selenium poisoning can also result in damage to lung tissue, increase blood pressure, headaches, diarrhoea and other disruptions in normal body function. Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen

Agency for Toxic

Substances and

Disease Registry

(ATSDR, 2003),

Pirzada and Pirzada



Used in small quantities as

gallium arsenide in light

emitting diodes

Allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, decreased red and white blood cell production, abnormal heart rhythm; inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen Pirzada and Pirzada


Schmidt (2002)


Used in computers in the front

panel of a CRT, to protect users

from radiation

In small quantities it can cause vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, difficulties in breathing, increased or decreased blood pressure, numbness around the face, and muscle weakness. In large amounts barium can cause changes in heart rhythm or paralysis and possibly death. There are little data on its effect on humans over long periods but animal studies show that animals that drank barium over long periods had damage to the kidneys, decreases in body weight, and some died. ATSDR (2007),,

Puckett et al. (2002)


Used in mother-boards as a copperberyllium alloy used to strengthenthe tensile strength of connectorsand tiny plugs while maintainingelectrical conductivity

Lung damage, allergic reactions, chronic beryllium disease; known to be a human carcinogen ATSDR (2002),,

Puckett et al. (2002),

Schmidt (2002)



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