clothes on plastic hangers

Are Plastic Hangers Recyclable? Best Solutions & Alternatives

Whether you’re cleaning your wardrobe and have a few extra clothes hangers, or just want to replace all your plastic ones with a more eco-friendly alternative, you’re probably wondering what to do with them. Are plastic hangers recyclable?

With the growing rate of fast fashion worldwide, plastic hangers are now in every house, and their environmental impact is significant. So, what can we do about it? Join us as we delve into this issue below and find out whether we can recycle plastic hangers and what other options we have.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to dispose of your old hangers with a clear conscience. 

What Plastic Are Clothes Hangers Made From?

Clothes hangers are made from various types of plastic. Here are some of the most common plastics used for them:

  • Polypropylene (PP): This is one of the most common materials in making hangers. It’s strong, durable, and resistant to moisture, and you’ll find it in both thin and sturdy hangers. Plastic hangers made of PP are generally recyclable, but it’s best to double-check that with your local facility.
  • Polyethylene (PE): It’s flexible and durable. Some recycling programs accept polyethylene hangers.
  • Polystyrene (PS): It’s a rigid and brittle plastic sometimes used for lightweight or disposable hangers. Unfortunately, polystyrene hangers are hard to recycle.
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): ABS is a more durable and resistant plastic used for heavier-duty hangers. Like polystyrene, most recycling programs won’t accept ABS hangers.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): This plastic is less common for making hangers due to environmental concerns about its manufacturing and disposal. PVC hangers aren’t easily recyclable, and most recycling programs don’t accept them. 

While some plastic hangers are recyclable, that would vary greatly depending on the type of plastic they’re made of and your local recycling facility.

How to Check What Plastic Your Hangers Are Made From

Examine each of your plastic hangers carefully for any recycling symbols that indicate the type of plastic used. You might find a little symbol on the inside or along the hanger. Unfortunately, some plastic hangers don’t have any symbols, so you’ll have to either consult a recycling specialist or find another way to dispose of them. 

Remember that even if your hangers are made from recyclable plastics, they still might not be recyclable in your area.

Are Plastic Hangers Recyclable?

Some plastic hangers, like those made from PP, are generally recyclable. But most aren’t. It all depends on the type of plastic used during manufacturing and your local recycling guidelines. 

But why are plastic hangers so difficult to recycle? Here are a few common challenges:

  • Mixed Materials: Plastic hangers often include metal hooks or clips, rubberized coatings, or adhesive labels. These mixed materials complicate the recycling process. Separating the plastic from these components requires additional steps and can be challenging.
  • No Universal Hanger: There’s no universal standard for the design and composition of plastic hangers. They come in various shapes, sizes, and plastic types, making it difficult for recycling facilities to handle them efficiently.
  • Inconsistent Collection: Not all recycling programs accept plastic hangers, which is confusing.
  • Environmental Concerns: Some types of plastic used in hangers, such as PVC, release toxins during manufacturing and disposal.

There’s little you and I can do about these issues, but one thing we can do is look for more sustainable alternatives. Hopefully, manufacturers and retailers will catch our hint. You can check out a few eco-friendly options below.

Where to Recycle Plastic Hangers

Recycling plastic hangers can be a bit challenging, as not all recycling programs or facilities accept them. So, what are the options?

Some retail stores offer hanger recycling programs. They may have dedicated bins or collection points near the entrance of their stores where you can drop off plastic hangers. Let’s check out the conditions at the most popular ones.

Can You Recycle Plastic Hangers at Target?

Target is committed to reducing the environmental impact of their own plastic hangers. They have been reusing and recycling their hangers since 1994, but they’ll probably not accept other types of hangers. 

Does Walmart recycle hangers?

Walmart has a community recycling unit in some locations across the US, which accepts most plastic items. However, you won’t find plastic hangers among the list of accepted items. Still, if you have Walmart nearby, it’s worth asking your local store whether they accept plastic hangers.

Does Kohl’s recycle hangers?

Kohl’s doesn’t have a specific recycling program, but you can leave Kohl’s hangers for reuse and recycling. 

Dry Cleaners

Most dry cleaners use wire clothes hangers and will accept them for reuse. So, if you have spare wire hangers, you can try leaving them at your local dry cleaners. You can ask them about the plastic ones, but don’t get your hopes up.

To sum up, even if retailers accept plastic hangers for recycling, most of them will only take their own hangers. While that’s frustrating, it’s also understandable. They can reuse them effectively and are aware of their composition, so they can recycle them at the end of the hangers’ lifecycle.

So, recycling plastic hangers proves to be more challenging than you’d expect. But what about donation options?

thrift shop clothes on hangers

Where to Donate Plastic Hangers

Donating plastic hangers can be a great way to extend the life of these items and reduce waste. But is it going to be easier than recycling? Let’s check the options.

Can you donate plastic hangers to Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

Neither Goodwill nor the Salvation Army will take your plastic hangers by themselves. But if you donate clothes with the hangers already on them, they’ll take them, too. It’s a small trick to try if you already have clothes to donate.

Ask a Friend or Post on Facebook

The best way to get rid of plastic hangers is to give them to a friend or someone else who needs them. It doesn’t hurt to ask around. Many Facebook groups with people in need might also accept your hangers. 

Local Thrift Stores

Thrift stores often need a lot of hangers to display clothing. Check with thrift stores in your area to see if they accept such donations. You’ll reduce waste and help thrift stores save some money.

Community Centers

Local community centers, youth organizations, or schools might find uses for plastic hangers in art projects, theater productions, or other creative endeavors.

Nonprofit Organizations

Contact local nonprofit organizations that focus on job training, workforce development, or helping people find employment. They may use hangers for organizing work attire.

Small Businesses

Local businesses, such as boutique clothing shops, may need plastic hangers and may accept donations.

Before donating, it’s a good idea to contact the organization or place you plan to donate to and confirm that they accept plastic hangers. Also, ensure the hangers are clean and in good condition.

What to Do With Plastic Hangers: Reusing & Repurposing

If you can’t find a place where you can recycle or donate plastic hangers, but you also don’t want to give up, it’s time to get creative. Here are a few ways to reuse and repurpose plastic hangers:

  • Hang Accessories: Hang belts, scarves, ties, and other accessories on hangers to keep them organized and easily accessible.
  • Drying Rack: Use plastic hangers as a makeshift drying rack for lightweight clothing items. Hang wet clothes on hangers and place them on a shower curtain rod or a clothing rack to air dry.
  • Craft and DIY Projects: You can repurpose plastic hangers for various craft projects. For example, you can bend or shape them to create custom hooks or jewelry organizers.
  • Gardening Support: You can use plastic hangers for supporting plants. Create mini trellises for climbing plants or hang small pots and containers.
  • Holiday Decorations: Transform hangers into holiday decorations. Shape them into wreaths or use them as a base for hanging ornaments or lights. Here are some ideas for eco-friendly Christmas decorations
  • Cable and Cord Management: You can keep cords and cables organized with the help of hangers. Wind cords around the hanger arms, label them, and hang them in a storage area to prevent tangling.

Although you can’t readily recycle plastic coat hangers, reusing is a better option anyway.

By doing that, you can reduce plastic waste and find creative solutions for organizing, decorating, and crafting. It’s an environmentally friendly way to give your clothes hangers a second life.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives

If you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact and leave plastic hangers for good, there are several eco-friendly alternatives to consider. Look for hangers made from more sustainable materials like these ones:

  • Wooden Hangers: Wooden hangers are a classic and eco-friendly choice. They’re durable, long-lasting, and can add a touch of style to your closet. 
  • Bamboo Hangers: Bamboo is a renewable resource that makes for excellent hangers. Bamboo hangers are strong, lightweight, and biodegradable. They’re an eco-conscious choice for a sustainable closet. We like the bamboo hangers from Neaties. These are great quality and the walnut color looks quite elegant in our wardrobe. 
  • Metal Hangers: Metal hangers, such as stainless steel or aluminum, are durable and long-lasting. They’re a great alternative to plastic, and you can recycle them. Granted, they don’t look as good as the wooden ones.
  • Recycled Cardboard Hangers: These are good for lightweight or baby/kid clothes. Plus, they can be recycled again once you’re done with them. They’re great if you want a Montessori wardrobe for your child. 

When choosing eco-friendly hangers, look for products that are certified by recognized eco-labels or organizations to ensure their sustainability. By making the switch to eco-friendly hangers, you can have a more environmentally responsible wardrobe while reducing plastic waste.

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