The Rejoué association works for a better reuse of toys in Vitry-sur-Seine, in the Val-de-Marne. Here they are upgraded, before being resold for half price.
The 2022 Festival of Lights in Lyon
This Christmas Sunday will be, for many children, the most beautiful morning of the year. At the foot of the Christmas tree, toys, many toys, always too many toys… Gifts whose life cycle is very short, but also very polluting. So, to fight against the waste of the 100,000 tons of toys thrown away every year in France, the Rejoué associationbased in Vitry-sur-Seine, offers to give them a second life.
It is a stone’s throw from the town hall, in this former postal sorting center of 2,000 m2, that the employees of the association are busy. Here games, toys and books are handled by almost 70 people, in socio-professional integration.
First step for them: the collection. It is organized by the association’s network of partner companies who organize harvests throughout the year. These companies finance 30% of the Rejoué association through their sponsorship.
The toys, condemned by their owners, are thus transported to the workshop before being sorted. And the least we can say is that sorting is very selective! Objective: to guarantee quality and safety. “About 50% of the toys we collect are thrown away“, explains Claire Tournefier, founder and director of development of Rejoué. The reasons are various: poor condition, non-functioning, lost parts or even the absence of the “CE” marking, which certifies compliance with European regulations.
The stored toys are sorted by category and according to safety standards, before being repaired. “We start by retesting them, supplementing them as needed with our own spares before cleaning them.“, explains Nathalie Ourry, director of the plant.
They are therefore ready to be resold, at around 50% of the new price, or to be returned to children as part of solidarity operations. Childcare professionals can go to the shop reserved for them, located in the Vitry-sur-Seine laboratory. Individuals, for their part, can buy their new toys in the two outlets of the association : in the 14th arrondissement of Paris and in Villejuif, in an ephemeral shop which closes its doors at the end of the year.
Created in 2012, the association is a success. “All the toys we refurbish are sold without difficulty“, explains the founder of Rejoué. A success that fits into a gradual change in consumption patterns, accompanied by a democratization of the practice of second-hand. An eco-responsible gesture therefore, especially when we know that the average life of a toy is eight months.
In addition to the ecological dimension, Rejoué also seeks to develop a solidarity economy, allowing people in difficulty to reintegrate into the world of work. There are currently 47 employees in socio-professional integration, mostly women. “We have more than 60% of women in the workshop, often in a single parent situation. The goal is to help them get out of precariousness by providing them with skills, especially digital and linguistic“, explains Nathalie Ourry during her visit to the premises.
As far as toys are concerned, the second-hand sector seems to have a bright future ahead of it. In 2020 the government took up the topic again with the creation of the EPR sector (Extended Producer Responsibility) dedicated to toys that aims to reduce waste by enabling better recycling. According to the Ecological Transition Agency, ADEME, 50% of the toys would be reusable when “families want to get rid of it“.
Visiting the Rejoué seminar this Thursday December 22, the secretary of state in charge of ecology, Bérangère Couillard, recalled the government’s objectives: “Currently 4% of the toys produced are reused. From 1and January 2023 toy collection points will be set up in the area with the aim of reusing 9% of toys by 2027. Or 1 in 10 toys“According to AFP, around 6,000 collection points should be set up throughout the country.
In 2020 the French spent 1.7 billion euros in the purchase of toys at Christmas, with an average of 3-4 gifts per child. The solution to better toy recycling may be to buy fewer toys.