Many of you are correct in making the correlation that wire hangers are made out of metal and in theory should be recyclable. The problem is that the recycling equipment that makes it possible to have single stream processing can be damaged by the hangers. Before you say “ditch the machines”, remember that single stream recycling enables us to throw all our stuff into one bin instead of sorting it. That small convenience means that a lot more people take the time to recycle curbside.
So as long as machines are used to sort our recyclables, hangers are going to continue to pose a threat. Have you ever grabbed a wire hanger and easily bent it? Now imagine a much stronger machine getting ahold of that weak metal… yeah, it becomes a tangled mess.
But don’t worry, there are solutions! Many scrap metal places will accept them. You can also check with your local dry cleaner or thrift store. Many of them are always in need of a few more hangers. Another thing that you can do is to avoid buying metal hangers; opt for something a little more sturdy. They may cost a little more but should last at least twice as long so the cost to our Earth will be less.
Next time you think about tossing that wire hanger into your curbside recycling bin, imagine how a piece of string gets wrapped around your vacuum beater bar (Yeah, hangers can get tangled like that!). Metal hangers are a modern-day necessity, but by purchasing durable, long-lasting hangers we can put off their inevitable trip to the trash bin–which is where they belong since they aren’t recyclable.