Recycling in France by using Ressourceries and reusing

“Rubbish” is being given a second chance of life, thanks to a network of 157 Ressourceries spread throughout the country.

25 December 2019
By Connexion journalist

You can buy cheap second-hand furniture, homeware, clothing, books, music and electrical appliances from the organisation, which started in 2000 and has four aims: collecting items destined for rubbish; sorting, repairing, and restoring; selling; and educating the public about the need to give objects a second life.

Sébastien Pichot, vice-president of the Réseau National des Ressourceries, said: “Recycling is not enough. We need to put more emphasis on re-using objects wherever possible, rather than having them dismantled, processed in factories miles away and turned into something new, which is more expensive and has a more negative impact on the environment than restoration of objects.”

He said that two well-known associations – Erasmus and Envie – are similar to his network, as they also employ those finding it difficult to get work to restore and sell second-hand goods at low prices, but there is a difference.

“Erasmus and Envie both concentrate on the social side of their work, while our main aim is to reduce waste,” said Mr Pichot. “As well as encouraging people to come and buy from us, we would also love them to bring us the items they are planning to throw out so we can clean and repair them and put them in our shops.

“We have all kinds of workshops, with a wide range of skills, and 90% of the goods brought to us are given a second life.”

Ressourceries keep records to assess their impact on waste reduction. In 2017, they calculated 9,695 tonnes was saved from rubbish tips.

Furniture makes up 32% of their sales, followed by clothes at 23%. They also sell electrical goods and toys, books and music, and say the average anyone spends at one time is €10. They keep their prices deliberately low so anyone, including those on low incomes, can buy in a Ressourcerie.

“We are growing, and people are beginning to see the virtue in buying from us, rather than going to a shopping centre,” said Mr Pichot.

“We would like to open more Ressourceries so there are as many as there are waste collection sites: 25% of household waste could be re-used and we think creating more of our centres would be good for both the environment and the economy as we would be providing jobs, and making sure the artisanal skills necessary for restoration work do not die out.”

In 2013, the Réseau National des Ressourceries registered nearly 830,000 customers. That had nearly doubled by 2017, with 1.5 million people going to its stores.

It says there is a Ressourcerie close by for one in four people living in France, so maybe there is one near you if you are looking for a low-cost new look for your home or wardrobe.

For more details about the organisation, visit ressourcerie.fr.

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