Are Plastic Hangers Recyclable?

Every time you open your closet, you’re greeted with rows of clothing hanging on plastic hangers. They may seem like a small and insignificant part of your daily routine, but have you ever wondered about the environmental impact of those hangers? With the increasing awareness of our impact on the planet, recycling has become an essential aspect of waste management. However, the question remains: are plastic hangers recyclable?

Yes, plastic hangers are recyclable, but it depends on the type of plastic they are made from and the specific recycling capabilities of your local area.

Some plastic hangers are made from a type of plastic that can be recycled, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP). If this is the case, they can be placed in your recycling bin or taken to a recycling center.

However, other plastic hangers may be made from a type of plastic that cannot be recycled, such as polystyrene (PS) or polyvinyl. In this case, they cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in the regular trash.

The best thing to do with the plastic hangers is to use them till they wear out, then dispose of them in the dustbin. If unnecessary, you can avoid buying them in the first place.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of plastic hangers, their recycling potential, and the impact of their disposal on the environment.

Read on!

What are Plastic Hangers 

Plastic hangers are a type of clothes hanger that are made entirely or partially from plastic materials. They are widely used in households, clothing stores, and laundromats due to their affordability, durability, and lightweight properties. Plastic hangers can come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, with some featuring additional features such as hooks or clips to hold different types of clothing items.

While plastic hangers are commonly used, their disposal is a significant environmental concern, making understanding their recycling potential and proper disposal methods essential.

Recycling Potential of Plastic Hangers

The recycling potential of plastic hangers depends on the type of plastic they are made of. While some plastic hangers can be easily recycled, others require specialized processes, and some recycling facilities may not accept them at all.

Understanding the different types of plastic hangers and their recycling potential is essential to make informed decisions about their disposal and reducing their environmental impact.

Types of Plastic Hangers

There are various types of plastic hangers used for hanging clothes, but they can generally be classified into three main categories based on the type of plastic they are made of: polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

Polypropylene (PP) plastic hangers 

Polypropylene (PP) plastic hangers are households’ and retail stores’ most commonly used plastic hangers. PP “5” is a type of thermoplastic polymer that is lightweight, durable, and affordable. PP plastic hangers can come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them versatile for hanging different types of clothing items.

One of the key advantages of PP plastic hangers is their high recycling potential. Recycling facilities widely accept PP plastic and can be recycled using the same process as other PP products. However, the challenge with recycling PP plastic hangers is that they often have metal hooks attached to them, which must be removed before recycling. The hooks can also damage the recycling equipment, making recycling more difficult.

Polystyrene (PS) plastic hangers

Polystyrene (PS) plastic hangers are a type of clothes hanger made from polystyrene, which is a synthetic polymer plastic. Polymers are long chains of repeating units called monomers, and in the case of polystyrene, the monomer is styrene.

Polystyrene is created through polymerization, where individual styrene molecules are chemically bonded together to form long chains. These chains are then molded or extruded into the desired shape to create PS plastic hangers.

In addition to the polystyrene itself, PS plastic hangers may contain various additives to improve their properties or appearance. For example, plasticizers may be added to make the polystyrene more flexible, or pigments may be added to give the hangers a specific color.

While polystyrene (PS) plastic is technically recyclable, recycling PS plastic hangers is not always easy because they are often made of a mix of different plastics or other non-plastic components that make them difficult to recycle.

In some areas, recycling programs accept PS plastic hangers, but these programs are not universally available.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic hangers 

HDPE plastic hangers are a type of hanger that is made from high-density polyethylene plastic. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic hangers are made from HDPE plastic, a thermoplastic polymer derived from petroleum. HDPE plastic is created through polymerization, where ethylene monomers are linked together to form long chains of polymers.

To create HDPE plastic hangers, the HDPE resin is typically melted down and then molded into the desired shape using a injection molding process. The molding process allows the plastic to be formed into various shapes and sizes, including the various shapes and sizes of hangers.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic hangers are recyclable. HDPE is a commonly used type of plastic and one of the most commonly recycled plastics worldwide. However, it’s important to note that the recyclability of plastic hangers depends on the recycling facilities available in your area and their ability to process these items.

If your local recycling program accepts HDPE plastic, you can recycle your plastic hangers and other plastics with the recycling symbol with the number “2” on them.

Barriers to recycling plastic hangers 

Recycling plastic hangers is not as simple as it seems. Despite their widespread use, several barriers hinder the effective recycling of plastic hangers.

Understanding these barriers is crucial to developing effective solutions to promote sustainable hanger disposal practices and achieve a more circular economy for plastic hangers.

Let’s explore them


Contamination poses a significant impact on the recyclability of plastic hangers. Contamination can occur when plastic hangers are mixed with other materials in a recycling bin, or when they are used to hold items that leave residue or stick to the hangers, such as food or adhesive labels.

When plastic hangers are contaminated, it can be difficult to separate the different materials during the recycling process, which can reduce the quality of the recycled material or render it unusable.

Material type 

The material type of plastic hangers can impede their recycling in a few ways.

Not all plastic hangers are made of the same type of plastic. Some hangers may be made of polypropylene (PP), while others may be made of polystyrene (PS) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Each type of plastic has different properties, and some may be more difficult to recycle than others.

Secondly, plastic hangers can be made up of multiple materials, such as metal hooks or cardboard inserts, which make the recycling process more complex. These additional materials may need to be removed before the plastic hanger can be recycled, adding extra steps to the process.

Also, plastic hangers are often small and lightweight, which makes them more difficult to sort and separate from other materials in the recycling process. This can result in plastic hangers being sorted incorrectly and ending up in the wrong recycling stream or not being recycled at all.

Inadequate infrastructure 

Inadequate recycling infrastructure can be a significant hindrance to plastic hanger recycling. Without the necessary infrastructure, there may not be sufficient collection, sorting, or processing capabilities to efficiently and effectively recycle plastic hangers.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of collection mechanisms. Many recycling programs do not accept plastic hangers because they are not considered a high priority or because the program is not set up to handle them. This can lead to hangers being disposed of in landfills or incinerated instead of being recycled.

Even when recycling programs do accept plastic hangers, they may not have the proper sorting equipment to separate them from other materials. This is particularly problematic because plastic hangers are often mixed with other types of plastic items in recycling bins or dumpsters. Without proper sorting, plastic hangers can contaminate other recyclable materials or be sent to the wrong processing facility.

Another challenge is the lack of processing infrastructure. Once plastic hangers are collected and sorted, they need to be processed into a form that can be used to create new products. However, not all recycling facilities have the necessary equipment or technology to process plastic hangers efficiently, and the quality of the recycled plastic may be compromised.

Economic feasibility 

currently, there is a limited market demand for recycled plastic hangers which reduces the economic incentives for recycling facilities to invest in the equipment and processes necessary to recycle hangers.

Also, if the plastic is of low quality, it may not be suitable for recycling, which can increase the cost of processing and reduce the value of the recycled product.


Many people may not be aware that plastic hangers can be recycled or know how to recycle them properly. This lack of awareness can lead to plastic hangers being thrown away in the trash, which may end up in landfills or contribute to environmental pollution.

Impact of Disposing of Plastic Hangers in Landfills

Perhaps you’ve tossed them in the garbage without a second thought, but have you considered the long-term impact they could have on the environment? Every year, billions of plastic hangers are disposed of in landfills, contributing to the growing plastic waste problem.

The consequences of this disposal method are severe and far-reaching, affecting the environment and our health and well-being.

One of the primary concerns is that plastic hangers take a long time to decompose, with some estimates suggesting it can take up to 1,000 years. As a result, plastic hangers linger in landfills for generations, contributing to the growing problem of plastic waste.

Plastic hangers also release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil and water supply, further polluting the environment.

Aside from the environment, producing plastic hangers requires fossil fuels and creates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

The disposal of plastic hangers in landfills can also negatively impact human health. As plastic hangers break down over time, they can release microplastics, which can be ingested by animals and humans alike.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of plastic hangers in landfills.

Check for recycling options: First, check with your local recycling center or waste management facility to see if they accept plastic hangers. Some recycling centers may accept them, but others may not due to the challenges in recycling this type of plastic.

Donate: If the plastic hangers are still in good condition, consider donating them to a local thrift store or clothing donation center. This will help keep them out of landfill and extend their lifespan.

Repurpose: One of the most responsible disposal methods is to find ways to reuse or repurpose plastic hangers instead of throwing them away.

  1. Cable organizer. Use plastic hangers to organize cables and cords. Simply attach the cables to the hanger using twist-ties or zip-ties.
  2. Plant hanger. Cut the top part of the hanger, bend the two ends to create hooks, and use it to hang small plants.
  3. Art project. Use plastic hangers to create unique and colorful art pieces. You can paint them, glue them together, and create abstract sculptures or wall hangings.
  4. Scarf hanger. Use the plastic hangers to organize scarves. Simply wrap the scarves around the hanger, and hang them in your closet.
  5. DIY bird feeder. Use a plastic hanger to create a bird feeder. Bend the hanger into a shape that can hold bird food, and hang it outside your window.
  6. Create a drying rack: Attach several plastic hangers to a wooden board or rack to create a drying rack for clothes or towels.

What Can You Use Instead of Plastic Hangers

If you’re looking for alternatives to plastic hangers that are more environmentally sustainable and recyclable, here are some options:

Cardboard hangers

These are made from recycled paper and can be easily recycled after use. They are also biodegradable, which makes them a more sustainable option.

Metal hangers

Metal hangers are durable and long-lasting. They can be recycled at the end of their useful life and are a great alternative to plastic hangers.

Wooden hangers

Wooden hangers are biodegradable and can be composted at the end of their useful life. They are also durable and long lasting, making them a sustainable choice.

Bamboo hangers

Bamboo hangers are made from a renewable resource and are biodegradable. They are also strong and durable, making them a sustainable alternative to plastic hangers.

Future of Plastic Hangers

The future of plastic hangers is likely to be shaped by a growing awareness of environmental concerns and an increased demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products.

As consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases, there is a growing trend towards more sustainable and eco-friendly products, which could potentially impact the demand for plastic hangers.

One potential future for plastic hangers is a shift towards more sustainable materials, such as biodegradable plastics, recycled plastics, or alternative materials like bamboo or cardboard. This would help reduce the environmental impact of plastic hangers and meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.

Another possibility is a shift towards more durable hangers designed to last longer and be reused multiple times, reducing the need for frequent replacements and disposal. This could be achieved through the use of stronger plastics or other materials or by developing hangers with adjustable sizes to accommodate different clothing types.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put plastic hangers in the recycle bin?

It depends on your local recycling program and the type of plastic hangers you have. Most recycling programs do not generally accept plastic hangers because they are often made of low-grade plastic that cannot be recycled. Additionally, hangers can tangle and damage sorting equipment, causing delays and increasing costs for recycling facilities.

However, some recycling programs may accept certain types of plastic hangers, such as those made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP). To find out if your local program accepts plastic hangers, check with your municipal recycling center or visit their website.

Does Target recycle plastic hangers?

Target has a recycling program for plastic hangers in some of their stores. However, the program may vary by location, so it’s best to check with your local Target store to see if they participate in hanger recycling. If your local store does not participate, you can try contacting other local recycling centers or organizations to see if they accept plastic hangers for recycling. Alternatively, you can also consider donating unwanted hangers to local thrift stores or clothing donation centers.

Do Khols recycle plastic hangers?

Kohl’s has a recycling program for plastic hangers. They accept plastic hangers that are labeled with #2, #4, or #5 recycling codes at their stores.

Khols currently sidetracks almost 85% of waste materials from landfills while recycling nearly 135,000 tons annually. These numbers include the Khols gray shopping bag majorly.

However, it is always recommended to check with your local Kohl’s store to confirm their recycling program’s specifics and whether they accept plastic hangers or not.

Does Walmart accept plastic hangers?

The policy on accepting plastic hangers for recycling or reuse may vary by location, but Walmart stores generally do not accept plastic hangers for recycling or reuse. However, you can check with your local Walmart store or visit their website to see if they have any specific recycling programs or partnerships with organizations that accept plastic hangers.

If you are unable to recycle your plastic hangers through Walmart, you may want to check with your local recycling center or other retailers that may accept them. Alternatively, you can consider reusing your plastic hangers or finding creative ways to repurpose them instead of throwing them away.

Can plastic hangers be donated?

Yes, plastic hangers can be donated. When you think of donating plastic hangers, kindly check with your local shelters, nursing homes, orphanages, and hospitals. These institutions usually need hangers, so they accept donations. You can also check with organizations that accept clothes if they could need hangers too.


Whether plastic hangers are recyclable or not depends on the type of plastic they are made of and the local recycling policies in your area.

Some plastic hangers are made of recyclable plastics, such as #1 or #2, which many recycling programs can accept. However, other plastic hangers may be made of non-recyclable plastics, such as polystyrene (#6 plastic), which are not commonly accepted for recycling.

It is important to check with your local recycling center or waste management facility to see if they accept plastic hangers for recycling. If they do, follow their guidelines for preparing and sorting your plastic hangers before placing them in the recycling bin.

If your local recycling program does not accept plastic hangers, consider reusing them or finding creative ways to repurpose them instead of throwing them away. In general, it is best to avoid using plastic hangers if possible and opt for more sustainable options, such as metal or wooden hangers, which can be reused or recycled more easily.