Sustainable Hangers Divert Waste from Landfills

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With all the talk about organic, fair-trade and slow fashion, one thing has been overlooked: hangers.

Starting next month, billions of one-use, virgin plastic hangers now going into landfills each year will be replaced by greener hangers through an innovative shipping and retailing program called Garments on Ditto, the outcome of a partnership between green product design company Ditto and supply chain leader OIA Global.

While sustainably minded clothing-makers and retailers have focused on innovating sustainable apparel, building LEED-certified stores and even launching garment take-back programs, little attention has been paid to what clothes actually hang on.

“Apparel companies typically focus on the clothes themselves – they don’t think about the hanger as part of the product, even though it is,” Gary Barker, Ditto’s founder and CEO, told 3p. “It’s been a blind spot. But we’re starting to bring hangers into view with our work.”

Made from 100 percent FSC-certified recycled fiberboard and soy-based inks, Ditto hangers are free of chlorine, formaldehyde and heavy metals found in conventional plastic hangers. Even more, these hangers can reduce shipping and warehousing costs by up to 20 percent, fit up to 27 percent more clothes in shipping cartons, and fit about 40 percent more clothes on retail store racks than traditional plastic hangers.

Companies such as REI, Adidas and Gap have already piloted the use of Ditto hangers in select stores.

“People think plastic store hangers are used repeatedly, but once the garment is sold, there’s no reuse,” Barker said. “With the single-use plastic hanger actually costing almost 10 cents more per garment to ship, sell and dispose of, retailers are paying a premium to send tons of plastic to our landfills.”

According to various studies, 85 percent of retail plastic hangers are thrown in the garbage – resulting in a staggering 34 billion hangers going into landfills annually, enough hangers to fill about 20 Empire State Buildings.

Ditto hangers are made of at least 70 percent post-consumer waste and are recyclable, compostable and biodegradable.

With programs like Garments on Ditto, apparel retailers can rethink the entirety of their environmental impact, as well as embrace new levels of circular economy thinking.

Image courtesy of Ditto Hangers

Nayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli Gonzalez is Managing Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Conveners.org, a capacity building organization that supports the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners, accelerators, and mappers. A sustainability innovation strategist and storyteller dedicated to purpose-driven work, Nayelli has advised startups, nonprofits, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to drive engagement and amplify positive impact in the world. She's a trained journalist with an MBA who writes on sustainable business and social impact trends for a variety of publications.