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Coquitlam student will cart away your old TV to keep toxic waste out of the landfill

A Coquitlam student will pick up your old TV, printer, laptop, cellphone or other electronic waste so they can be refurbished or recycled responsibly. The effort may also earn her a $10,000 scholarship.
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Coquitlam high school student Jessica Liu is launching an e-waste collection service that she hopes will help her earn a $10,000 scholarship for her post-secondary studies in international relations.

A Coquitlam high school student wants to help you upgrade your TV, computer or cell phone.

Jessica Liu isn’t an early-adopter up on all the latest tech. But the Port Moody secondary senior will collect your old, obsolete electronic waste so you can make room for the newest and greatest guilt-free.

She said not only will her collection drive keep items like old TVs, DVRs, printers, laptops, headphones or iPods out of local landfills, it could also help her secure a $10,000 scholarship to pursue her post-secondary studies at McGill University in Montreal.

To make disposing those old electronics gathering dust in a closet or basement even easier, Liu will even arrange to pick them up curbside. Larger items like televisions will be retrieved by the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) that is sponsoring the initiative and breaks down the items for parts to refurbish old computers or mobile phones that can be donated to local organizations. Leftover bits and bytes are disposed of in a sustainable way.

Helping ensure a better future for her generation and those to follow is a mission close to Liu’s heart. She’s a student organizer with the Tri-City branch of the Force of Nature Society that is working to reduce emissions that lead to climate change by 45% by 2030, and 100% by 2050.

Last year, Liu founded the Sewsociety Project, a group of young people that used unwanted fabrics to make scrub caps for local health care workers coping with the early onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liu said she likes the ERA’s emphasis on refurbishing old electronics rather than just recycling them as the latter often requires dismantling and melting processes that use lots of high heat and energy. The journey recycled electronic components take can also be shrouded in mystery.

“Refurbishing is a little more sustainable,” she said. “We don’t really know what ends up happening with recycled waste.”

Liu said her concerns about climate change and sustainability come from family visits to China, where relatives live in the heavily-industrialized city of Nanjing that can be enveloped by smog so thick it locks in the summer’s heat and keep residents indoors for days at a time.

In fact, Liu’s hoping her studies in international development at McGill will open doors in the sustainable development field so she can take her efforts to combat climate change to the world stage.

• To arrange a pick-up of your electronic waste, email your details as well as a list of items to be disposed to [email protected]. The initiative lasts until mid-July.