If you’ve ever wondered what to do with your excess coat hangers, you may have asked Google if they are recyclable, perhaps hoping for a simple “yes, just pop them in your recycling bin”, but it’s more likely Google’s answer was a bit more “possibly, maybe, it depends” than you were hoping for.
The simple answer is, some plastic hangers are recyclable, and some aren’t, some recycling centres take them and some don’t. This causes a problem, with many plastic hangers that could be recycled going to landfill, and many that can’t be recycled taking a detour to the recycling plant before reaching landfill. It’s estimated that plastic of this kind in landfill can take up to 1,000 years to break-down, so recycling wherever possible is really important if we don’t want to run out of land to fill anytime soon.
So, how do you know if you can recycle your plastic hangers?
It depends on the type of material that went into the hangers originally, solid plastic hangers are generally made from one of two plastic resins, polypropylene (PP) or polystyrene (PS), and if this is the only material used in the production of the hangers i.e. there’s no metal or other materials included, the hangers will be, in theory, recyclable.
Your plastic hangers should be marked with a RIC code to identify which plastic resin they’re made from.
The difficulty for the recycling plants is knowing which resin the hangers are made from and having the facilities to sort them by resin type, as once different resins are mixed together the material becomes unusable.
If the plastic hanger also has metal components, like the type you generally find in clothing stores, it’s less likely they’ll be recyclable, but if you remove the metal parts first this may make them acceptable.
The best course of action if you’d like to recycle your plastic hangers is to get in touch with your local council’s recycling team, tell them what the RIC code is on your hangers, and they should be able to tell you if they can accept them. You can find your local recycling team’s details here.
What to do with them if they can’t be recycled
If your local recycling service are not yet set up to be able to take plastic hangers, there are still options to prevent them ending up in landfill sites.
- Check with your local charity shop. It’s likely they’ll be more than happy to take them off your hands.
- Drop them off to the local drycleaners. It may be that some of your hangers came from there in the first place, and most dry cleaners will be happy to re-use them.
- Keep some of them. If you’ve got some extra hangers in your wardrobe, next time you buy something new and they ask you if you want the hanger, you can confidently say no. This way the shop can re-use them.
Whatever you decide to do with your plastic coat hangers, hopefully there are enough options available to prevent them ending up in landfill.
Have you got any ideas we haven’t thought of to stop plastic coat hangers ending up in landfill sites? We’d love to hear your ideas, the more creative the better! Let us know below.