News / Ottawa

Ottawa student's recycling app a success

Edward Ren just graduated from Colonel By Secondary School in June

Edward Ren, 18, who graduated from Ottawa's Colonel By Secondary School in June, has developed a free app to help people recycle their electronics, batteries and paint.

Alex Abdelwahab / Metro Order this photo

Edward Ren, 18, who graduated from Ottawa's Colonel By Secondary School in June, has developed a free app to help people recycle their electronics, batteries and paint.

When Edward Ren's laptop died this past winter while trying to finish a final project, he wanted to know how he could dispose of it responsibly.

After some online research, he realized that stores that sell electronics are also required by law to take them back and recycle them. He figured a lot of people probably didn't know this information and maybe he could turn it into an app.

"If I could make an app, I could a) display all the locations in Canada, b) also make it easy to get there, like provide in-app navigational tools that could help a lot of people like me in that situation," he said.

Ren, 18, just graduated from Colonel By Secondary School's International Baccalaureat program in June. He will be heading to the University of Waterloo on Sunday to start his first-year of software engineering.

He started working on his app, Recycle CAN, in the spring and put it on the iTunes store in July. As of last week, Ren said it's received more than 16,000 downloads.

The free app maps all the locations across the country that will recycle electronic waste, batteries or paint. So far, Ren's app is only available on iOs ,for Apple users, but his Colonel By classmate and partner, William Shi, is designing a version for Android. They expect to release it in the fall.

Ren said he spent about seven weeks working on the app. He submitted an early version of it as part of a school project under his program's creative, activity, service (CAS) requirement.

"A lot of the work surprisingly was getting the database on locations. There's not one single federal source for recycling locations," he said, explaining the information was divided by province. "And some provinces don't even have online sources."

To find the information, he often went to third-party websites and then traced backward to the source material.

Ren said he's not getting any money from the app, and in fact had to pay about $100 to get the app on iTunes.

The code is also open-source and available online, in case other people want to use it to build their own apps.

One day, Ren said, he hopes to work full-time as a programmer in California, but right now he's focusing on Waterloo's Frosh Week, which starts Sunday.
 

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