Computers, tablets, phones … What to do with our old electronic devices?

Connected to clock, computer, smartphone, remote control ... each person has an average of eight electronic devices.

They float across our closets in the hundreds of millions: computers, tablets, cameras, game consoles, audio equipment, not to mention our cell phones, so massively purchased and so quickly replaced. While some could delight new users and thus spare the polluting manufacture of a new device, while others could be recycled into raw materials. So many reasons to empty these saturated closets.


Put the items that can reasonably still be used in a first pile. In the second, refer those who can only interest one recycler: broken devices and those that are obsolete so that they no longer interest anyone. Examples: mobile phones from before 2010, cameras or computers from before 2000.

fish out

Some old devices may, despite their canonical age, still be of interest to collectors. This is the case with the very first portable players from Sony, certain mobiles from Nokia or Apple, old Thomson computers, etc. Other devices remain useful because working models are rare – some camcorders for playing old family videos, for example. How to identify them? If someone needs a device, its value on a classified site is often non-zero. Furthermore, nothing prevents you from offering your device for free.

Throughout France, associations are concerned about protecting the computer or video game heritage and welcome donations of old computers or old consoles. The most serious restore them and then use them to create educational exhibitions, to introduce the new generations to video games in particular. In the Paris region, for example, we think of the MO5 association, but there are others, lesser known and equally deserving.


Delete all personal information from your devices. Reset smartphones, computers and tablets, clear memory from cameras, delete tapes from camcorders, delete contacts and photos from old mobile phones.


There is no shortage of reasons for those who want to donate a device that works well.

  • Electronism. Every sixth Frenchman is a victim of illiteracy, sometimes because they do not have a computer or tablet. The Emmaüs Connect association collects smartphones and laptops for them in eleven French cities. Please note that only units less than five years old are accepted.
    This association should not be confused with its parent company, Emmaüs France, which also collects more varied electronic equipment to resell them in its stores. In addition, it employs people with social and professional difficulties. Dozens of collection points are available on French territory. Many other associations help people in difficulty, some are referenced on the geographical search engine of the Agency for Ecological Transition (Ademe).
also read Article reserved for our subscribers Electronism: those who are left out of the all-digital world
  • Aid to less developed countries. Donations of smartphones and computers to less developed countries are not unanimous. Freight is expensive and the equipment risks ending up in particularly polluting landfills at the end of its life. If this track interests you, donate only newer equipment and choose the association that will take care of the transportation with great care. A dozen of them are listed on Don ordi, without assessing their seriousness.
  • Around you. Ask your loved ones to find out if your devices might be of interest to them: headphones, consoles, hi-fi systems, tablets or others. You can also ask them if they know of people who might be interested in your units: students, poor households, etc. If you are the parent of a child, consider contacting the school’s parent association. Think, too, of the Donnons page, a kind of Leboncoin for donations that makes it possible to offer devices to Internet users who live near your home.
  • Other reasons. The Monextel company, which offers to buy newer smartphones and pay the sum to Amnesty International, the Jane-Goodall Institute or dozens of other associations. Shipping is by post.


What to do with broken, obsolete or failed to donate devices? Avoid throwing them in ordinary rubbish bins: they are both particularly polluting and rich in recyclable raw materials. Dispose of them in waste bins marked WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). They will be crushed to recycle their plastic, glass and metals, preventing petrochemical plants and mines from running unnecessarily. Local recycling stations generally have trash cans for WEEE, but there are more convenient options.

  • Shops. Large electronics stores, such as Fnac, Darty or Boulanger, are required to collect WEEE. Collection points can be found in the stores of three operators: Bouygues Telecom, Orange and Free. Reference is made to many other stores with collection bins on the geographic search engine in Ecologic, a player funded by the eco-contribution that consumers pay on purchases and piloted by manufacturers. Enter your postcode and select “Small appliances mixed”.
  • Shipping. If you would like to get rid of your old mobile phones but do not need to go anywhere, you can print a free return label or even receive a stamped envelope in the mail. To do this, you need to connect to Jedonnemontelephone, a website run by the eco-organization Ecosystem, also funded by the eco-contribution and run by a group of major manufacturers.
also read Plan B: where do our old smartphones go?

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