The Environmental Impact of Plastic Garment Hangers

Timeframe: 2020 – 2021

During the last century, fashion has had an unhealthy reliance on plastic, with 65% of all garments currently being made form synthetic fibres such as acrylic and polyester. Beyond materiality, the fashion industry uses large quantities of plastic, much of which goes largely undetected in their use of packaging and in-store visual merchandising. Garment hangers in both retail and domestic settings are commonplace products used by industry and consumers alike, but in the shadow of fashion garments their impact on the planet is rarely considered. As a by-product of fashion manufacturing, it is the volume of consumption of garments in the UK which is increasing the number of hangers being produced and utilised annually. This project conducted in collaboration with UK mass-market fashion brands and sustainable hanger brand Arch & Hook revealed that 954.6 million plastic garment hangers are used annually across the industry. Omnichannel distribution has further revealed widely adopted practices involving the use of single-use plastic hangers within the product supply chain. The environmental impact of these products has until now been overlooked, with the sector wide volume of hangers being used and discarded previously unknown.