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We have talked about plastic coat hangers before and I try to buy unhung clothes whenever possible. However that is not always an option.  This company are promoting a solution; a fibre board biodegradable hanger and a campaign against the plastic hanger . Here is their promotional material

Plastic hanger facts
Approximately 85% of plastic retail hangers no reused or recycled
90% of America’s clothes now imported
30-40 billion clothes come into the United States on plastic hangers
85% of 30-40 billion is 25. > 34 billion hangers into landfills every year.
34 billion landfilled hangers would fill almost 20 Empire State Buildings
40 billion hangers end to end would stretch 8 million miles, far beyond the orbit of the moon—every year.
Polystyrene hangers off-gas benzene in clothing and leaches benzene into the ground water.
Polycarbonate hangers leach bisphenol-a into ground water.
Plastic hangers take over 1,000 years to break down in an anerobic landfill. All for a one-time use.
Why so many hangers?
Growing industry trend of one-use plastic hangers
Garments on Hangers (GOH) – hangers are put on clothing overseas by clothing manufacturer and shipped to store already on hanger
Each hanger is one-use and garment replacing sold product has it’s own hanger.
Hanger is now outsourced to clothing manufacturer who includes the price of the hanger into their Cost of Goods (COG)
Its cheaper for the clothing retailer to use one-use hangers but plastic is a poor material to make any product that is one-use, especially one with so much plastic in it.
Companies who use Garment on Hangers are Wal-Mart, Old Navy, C&A, Target, Kmart, Coles and most department stores.
Aren’t plastic hangers recyclable?
Cheaper to landfill than to recycle
Cheaper to make new plastic hangers than recycle
Multiple materials (metal hook and clips, rubber or vinyl no-slip pads, 7 different types of plastic) make recycling impractical if not impossible.
Where do plastic hangers go if I don’t take them after I buy clothing? Answer: in a box under the counter then out to the back.
How much waste per store?
One clothing company’s flagship store in San Francisco that uses the GOH system said
They throw away approximately 95% of their plastic hangers every day.
They replace from 8,000 to 28,000 garments everyday
That means they throw away from 7,600 to 26,600 hangers every day.
Why do companies that say they are green use such a wasteful system where up to 19.5 Empire State Buildings of plastic hangers landfilled?
Because hangers are invisible to the consumer
The wire hanger was patented in 1890
The plastic retail hanger was invented in the 60’s
There’s been no innovation, so the hangers have become invisible
They are so prevalent that no one sees them anymore
Hanger companies and retail clothing companies are very quiet about this extreme waste stream
Hanger companies stay in business
Retailers save by using one-use GOH plastic hangers

What’s the solution?
Tell your local retailer that you do not like plastic hangers in stores that you buy at.
that up to 34 billion of those plastic retail hangers go into your municipal landfill.
that they are not green if they use plastic hangers – even recycled plastic hangers.
Tell them that 85% of all plastic hangers end up in landfills.
Tell them to use a sustainable material such as paper fiberboard hangers that can be recycled at the store or at consumer curbside pickups
Join the Anti Plastic Hanger Movement and stop the 36 billion plastic hangers that get thrown into local landfills everyyear to save retail companies money!

You can see all our posts on clothing, fabrics and the plastic-free wardrobe here.

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10 thoughts on “Bad Hangers

  1. Interesting comment but I think you missed the attributed link in the second sentance of the first paragraph to the source of the stats. I will quote it for you “This company (link to their website) are promoting a solution; a fibre board biodegradable hanger and a campaign against the plastic hanger . Here is their promotional material” Which means that this is the promotional material of someone who opposes plastic hangers. It is their “facts and figures”, which I am quoting, for your information. You do have to remember the they are running a campaign against the plastic hanger and in the market promoting an alternative.

    You say “I have seen the information that you have supplied many times over the years and am not sure where you receive your facts”. FYI when I quote “facts” as in this case, the source is linked. You do know about links? You follow the highlighted text (usually a different colour from the rest of the text in this case “this company”), and then you are linked to my source. You actually find out from where I receive my “facts.” Its very quick and easy to do.

    I am glad to see you list some stores that according to you have a responsible hanger reuse policy (unsubstantiated).That is encouraging news. Now you know how they work perhaps you could offer some links to your own sources of information? I would be most interested.

    But while some stores may recycle/ reuse plastic hangers in store (do you have any reuse/recycle plastic hanger stats for U.S. clothing stores), if they are not taken by the customer (how many hangers are actually left in store I wonder?), they cannot be sure that the customer will recycle them when they discard them. That some will end up in landfill is without doubt. That some end up as litter can be easily seen. So what you are challenging here are not that this happens, but the actual numbers?

    But even if we reduce the numbers we are back to the problem of disposing of non-biodegradable plastic and the problems created when non biodegradable plastic escapes into the environment. If there is a compostable, alternative to a plastic product then I feel it is worth discussing that option, or rather allowing them to put their own case as I have done here.

    Thank you for being a regular reader. As such you will know that I feature many different sources of information on this blog often from opposing sides of the argument. Now you also know that I credit them and you can follow the LINKS (see above paragraph) to learn more about those sources.

    I look forward to reading your research on the subject.

    NB Even while recycling plastic may be considered by some a solution to the environmental issues caused by over use of plastic, I would have to disagree. I personally don’t believe it is effective

  2. I am not sure where you source your information but most if not all the information supplied is false; specifically the following quote:

    “Plastic hanger facts
    Approximately 85% of plastic retail hangers no reused or recycled
    90% of America’s clothes now imported
    30-40 billion clothes come into the United States on plastic hangers
    85% of 30-40 billion is 25. > 34 billion hangers into landfills every year.”

    The facts are that majority of US retailers that import garments on hangers have a hanger reuse/recycling program in place. I will cite the major US retailers that you can contact to verify that they recycle/reuse hangers: Walmart, Sears, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Nordstoms, Dillards, Belks, Dicks, Target and many more.

    The actual manner in which the retailers reuse/recycle hanger varies, but none of the above (or any that I know of) simply throw hangers in the trash that end up in land fills.

    In most instances the customer is offered the hanger to take home an use in their closet. Those that are not taken home are collected in the store and one of two things happens:

    1) the hanger remains in the store and is used again for garments that are not shipped on hangers.

    2. The hanger is collected and SOLD to either a hanger reuse company or SOLD to a plastic recycling company. There are several hanger reuse companies in the US including Mainetti, Braiform, JDM, Ability Counts, and Sewing Collections, that purchase hangers from the US retailers, sort, package and resale the hangers. There are also several companies that purchase hangers for recycling where hangers are collected, shredded, cleaned and refined into industrial grade plastic that is used to manufacture many different plastic products including new hangers. (Recycling Solutions Intl)

    Most of the store personnel working on the floor or the cash registers have no idea of what happens with the hangers and when they say they are “thrown in the trash”, this to them is the box at the register. Not trash, but a receptacle to collect hangers.

    I have seen the information that you have supplied many times over the years and am not sure where you receive your facts. Throwing around numbers and percentages that have no basis to support your cause is unconscionable. To the contrary, over 90% of the hangers imported on garments are recycled or reused. I suggest that you check with GS1; GS1.org and get your facts straight.

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