How recyclable are plastic hangers? Can you drop them off at recycling bins? What must you do so they would not be thrown away into dumps and instead recycled? Find out more about plastic recycling in today’s blog.
Do you want to repurpose plastic hangers? Clear plastic hangers, plastic hangers without notches, strong plastic hangers, and high quantity plastic hangers in bulk are almost impossible to recycle.
Can Plastic Hangers Go in Recycling Bin?
In general, no, plastic hangers cannot go into the recycling bin for many reasons. The first problem is that hangers are rarely marked with what type of resin they’ve been made of. Wire hangers are problematic because there’s no space to stamp the number anywhere on the hanger. As for the bigger and heavier hangers, there’s a problem there, too, because manufacturers rarely tag them. The second reason why recycling facilities refuse plastic hangers is some of them have metal wires inside. The metal wires are coated with plastic, and these will break any batch for recycling. Plastics for recycling have to be as pure as possible to be recyclable. Adding one wrong piece of plastic to a batch for recycling can result in a damaged and unusable batch.
From a chemistry point of view, plastic hangers can be recycled. However, if there are no arrangements to accept plastic hangers, that might be a big hindrance. The recycling facility has to be willing to take in the hangers in the first place. Sorting is always a problem, as many facilities only have manual sorters, and they have limited personnel on board.
Materials recovery facilities or MRFs have to ‘recognize’ the plastic hangers first before they can be recycled, too. Much of what goes into deciding as to what can be recycled or not is based on market demand – what type of plastics do manufacturers nearby need in the first place? If there is not much demand for the resin used normally for hangers like the black hangers found in clothing shops, then there would be little motivation for MRFs to create an assembly line to recycle these plastics.
Materials collection is always the turning point here. If retailers, for instance, had a drop-off point for all their plastics, such as plastic bags and hangers, it would be much more efficient, and people will be more willing to make an extra effort to bring their hangers and drop them off.
But the big question, too, is why you would want to use recycled plastic in the first place? It’s quite simple – creating new plastic requires three times more carbon output than recycling it. Sure, there’s still energy and machinery involved, but recycled plastic is better for the environment. The first advantage is it prevents more plastic from accumulating as solid waste. Plastic pollution has already reached a fever pitch in recent decades, and the more plastic we pump into the environment, the more microplastics there will be in the ocean. Plastic waste on land isn’t any safer either. Plastic tends to degrade a little over time, releasing toxic chemicals into the earth. These chemicals poison the land and eventually leach into the natural aqua tables found deep in the earth.
The more we use recycled plastics, the better off we will all be.
How Do You Dispose of Plastic Hangers?
Since it is complicated to dispose of plastic hangers, your best option would be to use them for as long as possible. As you continue using plastic hangers, especially the ones that you get from buying new clothes, you are helping keep plastic off the land and the oceans, too. A portion of plastic waste on land eventually finds itself in the ocean, and there are countless garbage dumps all over the world with mountains of plastic waste and nowhere to go.
Now, if you have old hangers that are begging to be recycled, there are some guidelines:
- Check if the hangers have numbers that correspond to their resin. Most hangers don’t. If you do find a number, like a six or seven, then that’s good news – you can drop off the hangers in a curbside recycling bin marked with the correct number. If not, then the hanger may be manufactured with something like compacted Styrofoam, which is recyclable. Still, no one ever recycles because they’re bulky and expensive to recover in the first place.
- Old hangers that are unrecyclable will not be melted and recycled at all. Don’t think that just because you tossed the plastic into the recycling bin that they’re going to recycle the stuff all the same. What happens to plastics that cannot be recycled? Depending on the state or city, these are either dumped or incinerated. Incineration isn’t the answer at all, as it creates air pollution and leaves a massive, gaping carbon footprint in the process.
- If you have many hangers at home from fashion houses and clothing stores, these are likely made of polystyrene. You need to break off the metal part of these hangers first before recycling them. Otherwise, they’re going to be thrown out because materials recovery facilities can only process plastics, not wood, and certainly not metals.
- Whenever possible, buy hangers that are marked with TerraCycle. TerraCycle hangers are manufactured by a company that specializes in upcycling plastic products. They take plain plastic and turn the plastic into something of higher value. It’s a mix of recycling and manufacturing that’s good for the planet.
- If your hangers are still in good condition, why not sell or donate them? Having other people use your hangers is a better option than having them dumped in a landfill – along with tons of other hangers that should have been recycled, upcycled, or otherwise just used again.
What Can I Do with Old Plastic Coat Hangers?
The best way to dispose of old plastic coat hangers is to check their recycling code, remove any metal parts and drop them off for recycling/materials recovery. Otherwise, you may want to get creative with them and use them in different ways at home.