College students in Manitoba, Canada won a cash prize last week for coming up with an innovative way to reduce volumes of electronic waste.

University of Manitoba students Haneen Shouman, Maria Sanchez and Michael Hall proposed the idea of an annual weekend-long curbside e-scrap recycling collection program. Bringing collection to residents’ homes and accepting all types of electronics would make it more convenient to recycle, encouraging diversion rather than disposal.

The team told CBC News that although there are e-scrap recycling facilities in Manitoba, “nobody really knows how to handle their e-waste. Everybody has that drawer of old electronics or old phone that nobody knows what to do with it.”

The students were competing in the Game Changer competition, open to all higher education institutions in Manitoba. It begins with a selection of issues for teams to tackle. This year, the question of how to “reduce e-waste to diminish harmful side effects to the environment” was selected from a pool of 192 issues as one of the top four most important problems to solve.

Now that they’ve won the competition and $7,600 in cash, the e-scrap innovators may try to bring their idea to fruition. Team members said they’ve brainstormed about setting up the e-scrap collection program first on their college campus, before taking it out into the wider community.

Waste challenges have proven to be popular topics in the Game Changer program. Last year the winning team came up with a strategy to reduce food waste at different points along the food value chain.