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Can You Recycle Plastic Hangers? Read This Guide

Plastic hangers have become a staple in our closets thanks to their affordability and durability. However, disposing of them can be tricky, given the challenges associated with plastic recycling

Understanding the recyclability of plastic hangers helps in making responsible decisions that contribute to environmental care and waste reduction.

Keep reading to learn more about the proper disposal methods for these common household items.

What Are Plastic Hangers Made Of?

While plastic hangers are officially accepted in recycling bins, most are made from non-recyclable materials. The predominant materials, #6 polystyrene and #7 polycarbonate, often leads to these hangers being sorted out during recycling and ultimately incinerated​​.

As a result, plastic hangers in Singapore are considered general waste. If they can't be recycled, upcycled, repurposed or reused, the last resort is disposal in the trash. Plastic hangers end up in General Waste Disposal Facilities (GWDFs), which are equipped to receive, store and process general waste.

Understanding The Health Hazards Of Plastic Hangers

The health hazards of plastic hangers are significant as they are primarily from polystyrene or polycarbonate. Because of this, hangers only rely on fossil fuels for production and can pose long-term environmental risks, with plastic waste taking approximately between 20 to 500 years

And even then, it doesn't fully break down but becomes progressively smaller. 

Moreover, black plastic hangers are hard to recycle because they are coloured using carbon black pigments. The pigmentation makes it difficult for recycling plants to detect and consequently sort these items which are dyed in black.

Plastic hangers can also release harmful chemicals into the environment. For instance, polystyrene hangers can leach carcinogenic benzene, posing risks to human health and wildlife.

Two common plastics used in hanger manufacturing include:

  • Polystyrene (PS): Often used for lightweight or disposable hangers, polystyrene is notoriously hard to recycle. Its disposal poses environmental challenges, releasing styrene, which can adversely affect the central nervous system, causing symptoms like headaches, fatigue and dizziness​​.

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): While less commonly used in hanger manufacturing due to environmental concerns, PVC still poses significant risks. A key component of PVC, vinyl chloride, is a carcinogenic gas that can lead to an increased risk of developing liver, brain and lung cancers, as well as lymphoma and leukaemia.

Are There Eco-Friendly Hangers?

Moving away from plastic hangers, often non-recyclable and environmentally damaging, is a positive step towards a more eco-conscious and sustainable lifestyle. Let’s explore various sustainable alternatives to plastic hangers.

  • Cardboard Hanger: There are companies that offer cardboard hangers that often feature recyclable steel hooks. Some manufacturers are also innovating by developing cellulose-based hangers that are crafted from materials like FSC-certified fibres, recycled paper and cotton textiles, pushing the envelope in sustainable product design.

  • Bamboo Hanger: Hangers can also be made from bamboo, known for being a renewable and sturdy material. Bamboos are naturally resistant to pests and fungi, reducing the need for chemical treatments. This material also grows rapidly, making it a reliable source of renewable material

  • Metal Hanger: Durable metal hangers, such as those made from stainless steel or aluminium, are excellent long-term alternatives to plastic due to their robustness and longevity. They can handle various clothing types and weights, significantly outlasting plastic hangers. Their recyclability also means they can be reused multiple times, reducing overall environmental impact and waste.

Creative Ways To Upcycle Plastic Hangers

Here are some inventive ways to upcycle old hangers, an effort that showcases creativity and helps lessen the amount of waste sent to landfills, extending the life and utility of plastic hangers.

Hanger Wall Display

  • Materials Needed: Plastic hangers (preferably skirt hangers for their bottom bar), retro clips or colourful clothespins, photographs, or artwork.

  • Steps:

    1. Begin by choosing a plastic skirt hanger. These hangers typically have a bottom bar, ideal for hanging items. If you don't have skirt hangers, any sturdy plastic hanger will do. Clean the hanger to ensure it's free from dust.

    2. Attach your chosen photographs or artwork to the hanger. If your hanger is a skirt hanger with clips, you can directly clip the photos onto the hanger. If it's a regular hanger, use colourful clothespins or retro clips to attach your photos to the bottom bar of the hanger. 

    3. Arrange them in a visually pleasing manner, ensuring they are evenly spaced and securely fastened.

    4. Once your photographs or artwork are attached, find the perfect spot on your wall for this personalised display. The spot should complement your room's decor and allow the display to be a focal point.

    5.  Hang the hanger display on a nail or wall hook. 

Ribbon Holder

  • Materials Needed: Plastic hanger, cutting tool (such as strong scissors, a small saw, or a utility knife).

  • Safety Precautions:

  • Ensure you're working on a stable, flat surface.

  • Wear protective gloves if necessary to prevent cuts.

  • Steps:

    1. Choose a plastic hanger strong enough to hold multiple ribbon spools without bending or breaking. Clean it to remove any dust or dirt.

    2. Identify the central part of the bottom bar of the hanger and mark this spot with a marker or a piece of tape for precision.

    3. Using your cutting tool, carefully cut through the marked point at the centre of the hanger's bottom bar. Be sure to cut straight across to create a smooth opening. 

    4. If the cut leaves any sharp or rough edges, gently sand them down to prevent any potential damage to the ribbons.

    5. Once the cut is made, start sliding your ribbon spools onto the hanger through the cut. Organise them in a way that makes it easy to find the colours or sizes you need. 

    6. If the cut part of the hanger does not stay closed on its own and you're concerned about spools slipping off, you can use a piece of tape or a small clamp to secure the two cut ends together after all your ribbons are in place.

    7. Hang the ribbon holder in your craft space where it's easily accessible. 

Flip Flop Organiser

  • Materials Needed: Plastic hanger, a small saw (a utility knife or pair of scissors also works)

  • Steps:

    1. Carefully cut at the beginning of these curves, ensuring to make a straight and smooth cut. This will result in two smaller hanger pieces with a hook on one end and an open curve on the other.

    2. After cutting, there might be rough or sharp edges. Use sandpaper or a file to smooth these out to prevent any potential snags or injuries.

    3. Take one mini hanger and slide one side of your flip-flop (the toe-thong part) onto the curved end of the cut hanger.

    4. Repeat this with the other side of the flip-flop. The hook of the mini hanger can then be used to hang the flip-flop in your closet.

Mini Table Hanger Legs

  • Materials Needed: Four wooden hangers, screws, sturdy tabletop, paint or varnish (optional).

  • Steps:

    1. Check the plastic hangers for any signs of wear or damage. If there are rough edges, gently sand them for a smoother finish. This step is important to ensure safety and improve the overall look.

    2. Place the tabletop upside down on a flat surface. Arrange each plastic hanger at the corners of the tabletop so that the hook part faces inwards towards the centre, and the lower part of the hanger (where clothes would hang) will serve as the legs.

    3. Drill holes in the hangers where they will be attached to the tabletop. Then, using the screws, secure each hanger firmly to the tabletop. Ensure the screws are the correct length – long enough to hold the hangers in place but not so long that they come through the top of the table.

    4. If desired, paint or varnish the table and hangers for a cohesive and polished appearance. Allow adequate drying time.

    5. After the paint or varnish is dry, turn the table upright and check its stability. Press down gently on the tabletop to ensure no wobbling and that all the legs are evenly supporting it. 

    6. Place the upcycled table in its intended location. If it seems unstable, you may need to adjust the hangers or add additional supports.

Clothes Hanger Wall Hooks

  • Materials Needed: Plastic hangers, mounting tools (such as screws, wall anchors, and a drill or screwdriver).

  • Steps:

    1. Start by selecting plastic hangers that are sturdy and in good condition. Avoid thin or flimsy hangers, as they might not support much weight.

    2. Using a saw or strong scissors, carefully cut the lower part of the hanger (the part that would normally hold the garment) off, leaving the hook and the upper part intact. The remaining part should resemble a hook shape. Use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges from where you cut. 

    3. Decide where you want to mount your hanger hooks. Use a pencil to mark the spots on the wall and ensure the space between each hook is sufficient to hang items without overcrowding.

    4. Drill holes at the marked spots on the wall. If your wall requires it, use wall anchors to ensure the hooks are securely mounted. 

    5. Align the reshaped hanger (now a hook) with the drilled holes and use screws to attach it to the wall. Make sure the hook is firmly in place, and the screw is tight. The hook part should be facing upwards.

    6. Gently pull on the hooks to ensure they are securely attached to the wall and can hold weight. It's important to test this before hanging any items to avoid damage.

    7. If your hooks are securely in place, you can use them to hang lightweight items like keys, jewellery, small purses or scarves. 

How Small Businesses In Singapore Tackle The Plastic Hanger Problem

Donating plastic hangers may seem like a small gesture, but its impact on the environment and the community is significant. When we choose to donate our plastic hangers, we contribute to a chain of positive outcomes that extend far beyond our closets.

For instance, For the Love of Laundry, a green dry cleaning company in Singapore that’s taking strides to tackle the plastic problem. 

They implement a plastic hanger return programme by encouraging customers to return their hangers while contributing 5 cents to the Cambodian Children's Fund. This fund is instrumental to Cambodia's most disadvantaged communities through various programmes, from education to family support.

Reward Laundry, a professional laundry service provider in Singapore, is also known for its efficient and eco-friendly practices through its Recycle Hangers initiative.

The Recycle Hangers initiative encourages customers to return their used hangers. For every ten hangers returned, customers receive a 50-cent rebate on their next service. This initiative promotes recycling and provides a tangible benefit to customers, reinforcing sustainable practices.

It's a win-win: their customers save and the hangers, after a thorough disinfection and quality check, re-enter circulation, reducing the demand for new plastic production and helping keep existing plastics in use and out of landfills.

Conclusion About Recycling Plastic Hangers

By understanding the health hazards linked to plastic hangers and exploring alternative approaches like upcycling and reusing, we actively contribute to a more sustainable future. As consumers, we play a crucial role in this process—by choosing sustainable alternatives and recycling effectively.

At Semula, we're dedicated to upcycling plastic materials to preserve our natural resources. Our Upcycling/Sustainability Workshops, Recycling Talks and partnerships with local businesses in Singapore reflect our commitment to sustainable practices.

Fill out the form below to join us and learn more about making a difference. Together, we can turn the tide on waste and refresh our environment for future generations.

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