Around ten computers of the same model follow each other on a work surface. Each one has a note written on a Post-it: “HS keyboard” or “HS screen”. Leaning over his table, a few steps away, Xavier Lelièvre meticulously analyzes one of these defective models, stripped down by him. “We won’t be able to save this one. But it doesn’t matter, we’re going to sacrifice it for the good of others,” comments the 32-year-old technical sales representative, without feeling sad.
Located in an artisanal area of Briec, a few kilometers from Quimper, the Finistère company Unik IT has made reuse its mantra. “Rather than ordering spare parts from China or the United States, we use our stock of spare parts, recovered from computers that no longer work,” explains the mechanic employee, wrapped in a black down jacket, before heading off. undertake new tests.
A way to limit digital pollution. Because in France, individuals and professionals use more than 800 million digital objects (smartphones, laptops, printers, speakers, TV boxes, etc.) (1). The manufacture of these devices requires a large amount of energy and materials: 221 kg of ore for a smartphone, 836 kg for a computer, 1.3 tonnes for a processor (2). In 2021, 57 million tons of electronic equipment were discarded worldwide (3).
Buy a refurbished computer to fight pollution
Unik Informatique has spotted the seam. The SME, created by a local child, Benjamin Destor, embarked on the adventure in 2008. In 2015, it adopted its current name and moved towards reconditioning by purchasing computers from brokers in the region, who govern the computer equipment of local authorities and companies, renewed every three years. “We manage to repair 80 to 90% of them, which we resell almost new in our stores,” says Vincent Ressiguier, affable co-manager of the company. Or 5,000 per year.
Their storage location looks like an Ali Baba’s cave. A string of aisles follow one another, lined with methodically arranged equipment – memory cards, cables, keyboards, screens… “This represents 100,000 pieces, one of the largest stocks in Europe, because few companies do so. are so far interested, says Sébastien Watel, employee in charge of supplying the website and managing the reserve. Orders then go all over the world. »
Reconditioning ensures good advice and good prices
At the back of the room, his colleague, Sébastien Martin, examines the anomalies of the computers resulting from the first sorting: “I analyze their symptoms in detail, which allows me to keep all the functional parts. » The unusable items fill three small crates, sent for recycling in Brest. Unik Informatique has thus given new life to a few tonnes of digital “waste” since 2020.
This is a lot and a little at the same time when we know that 994,805 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment were collected as waste in 2021 in France according to Ademe (agency responsible for ecological transition). A constantly increasing figure.
The small company, whose workforce has doubled in four years (20 employees), also relies on the sale of refurbished computers in its stores, 60 to 70% cheaper than new ones. But also on the repair of personal equipment thanks to its stock of spare parts.
The autumn afternoon sees a good number of customers come, like Thierry and his daughter Margot, in search of the rare pearl for her optician studies. “What is sold often turns out to be overpriced and unsuitable. Here, we find good advice and we avoid buying new things,” argues the father.
Behind the counter, the employee, Amélie Dafniet, notices a real craze for second-hand goods: “Today, everyone needs a computer. » This virtuous circle caught the eye of Ademe. She is supporting Unik Informatique to industrialize its approach on a regional scale in the coming months. Vincent Ressiguier is pleased: “This could represent 12,000 computers to collect and nearly 40 jobs in Brittany alone. » There is something to see in the big picture.
(1) Ademe (2020).
(2) Alliance Green IT.
(3) WEEE Forum.
What are the recipes for Unik Informatique’s success?
- Expertise. The use of computer technicians makes it possible to valorize the parts that are still usable.
- A well-oiled circuit. Computers to be repaired or recycled are purchased from wholesalers working for communities and businesses.
- Direct access. With its stores located in Briec, Brest and Morlaix, Unik Informatique allows consumption of reconditioned products on a departmental scale.