When you buy an electrical household appliance in France, there is always a small part of the price labelled éco-participation, a fee used to fund collection and recycling of the item when it is no longer used.
The money does not go to the government but to one of two non-profit organisations responsible for recycling.
One is Ecologic, which has 15% of the market, and the other is Eco-systèmes, with the remaining 85%, which deals with more electronic equipment than any other company in Europe.
The amount you pay depends on the cost of recycling each type of equipment and ranges from two centimes for the simplest mobile phone to €27.60 for an American-style fridge, as refrigeration units are the most complicated to recycle.
You can take your old appliances to your local tip – there are 4,000 in France – to be collected by Eco-systèmes. You can also take small appliances to one of 8,000 collection points in supermarkets and DIY stores.
Electronic goods sellers also have a legal obligation to take in the piece of equipment you are going to replace.
Shops such as Darty advertise this facility. Most online shops do not but you can insist that they do this.
The scheme was started in 2006 and about 11kg of equipment is now handed in for recycling per person per year.
This is still short of the 14kg objective put in place by Europe.
Mélissa Bire, from Eco-systèmes, said there is still work to do.
She said: “We realise it is not as simple as all that to remember to take your old appliance with you when you go to the supermarket or when you go to the tip.
“It is much easier to keep it in a drawer or throw it in the bin. But it is worth the effort.”
On average, 81% of each piece of equipment can be recycled.