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What to do with your wire hanger?

by NBC News producers, Bita Nikravesh and Amber Payne

Many of you have responded to Roger O'Neil's "Greening of America" story last evening on the environmental impact of using cardboard hangers over wire.  Some of you want to know why wire hangers aren't recyclable.  The answer is, they are, but many of us do not recycle.  The best way to dispose of your wire hangers is to return them to your dry cleaner for re-use.  We have heard of a few cleaners who refuse to take them back, but if they are in good condition most will accept returns and then re-use them.

Unlike paper and plastic, there are no specially designated recycling bins for disposal of your used wire hangers, so many of us simply throw them away. This results in 3.5 billion hangers ending up in our landfills every year.

According to the National Cleaners Association (NCA),  if a wire hanger is returned to a dry cleaner in poor condition then that cleaner could send them to a scrap metal dealer or give them back to the supplier who may have other methods of disposal. The NCA also suggests that people concerned about this issue should make it a community project. Run a wire hanger drive or identify a place where your neighbors can gather them up and pass along to a scrap metal dealer.

The simplest solution? Try your dry cleaner first.  They might be happy to take them back.