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Wearing it well

Youve gone clothes shopping. You go to the checkout with your chosen items. The shop assistant asks you if youd like the garment hanger. You say no and it gets placed into a box under the counter. Where do the hangers go? Straight back out onto the shop floor, a size 12 hanger going straight back out to hang a size 12 garment?

That scenario is very unlikely, theres a reasonable possibility that your unwanted clothes hanger will be going back to Mainetti UK, a clothes hanger manufacturer, which, spotting an opening, has also turned its hand to the recycling of the same product and has in fact pioneered the practice in the UK.

This means that the hangers are used and reused for their maximum lifespan before being taken out of the system and granulated, the plan each year is that none of the hangers processed end their life in a landfill site.

Kelvin Khoo, project engineer at Mainetti UK, explains: Its important to put back into the system as many garment hangers as possible, so closing the recycling loop, and moving towards sustainability.

Mainetti UK, a northern Italian company, was founded in 1961, and opened its operations in the UK, in Jedburgh, Scotland, in 1974. It now supplies clothes hangers to the majority of the main clothes stores youll find on the UK high street.

At its Distribution and Recycling Centre at Deeside, Mainetti employs in excess of 200 people all working toward the same end of enhancing the ethos of recycling and therefore sustainability.

The company handles several thousand tonnes of hangers each year. Those that are not processed back into the system for further use will be granulated at Mainettis North Wales Distribution and Recycling Centre at Deeside.

However not all hangers are made of the same material, some are made of polyethylene, polypropylene, wood or foam, which dont lend themselves to Mainettis main recycling process. They are separated and processed through a independent operation.

The main operation primarily deals with recycling polystyrene garment hangers. The other hanger types are granulated and then fed to manufacturers who, in the main, will use that material to produce sheeting for use in the agricultural industry.

The metal hooks can also be a problem, although these are also effectively dealt with: The metal hooks are extracted in the granulation process and collected by local metal merchants free of charge, says recycling manager Paul Newton.



Chain

The process is a complex chain: the retailer will decide which hangers they wish to reclaim back through recycling and Mainetti tailors the service to suit the customer needs. The hangers, once they have been rejected by the customer at the till point and placed in a box under the counter are fed back through the supply chain to Mainetti for sorting, reprocessing and recycling.

Often a particular garment hanger type will not be needed any longer by a customer as a particular line of clothing is coming to an end, so the retailer will stipulate whether Mainetti needs to process that garment hanger through the resorting operation or if it should be granulated.

According to Newton, the expected number of times a clothes hanger can be returned to the retailer varies significantly dependant upon the type of hanger and what operational environment it has been exposed to within the supply chain as a whole.

Despite the different materials, the recycling of hangers has proved viable for both Mainetti and its customer base, which currently consists of upward of 20 store brands.

The main overall environmental benefit gained by a customer from buying into the recycling option is that they are able to fulfil their packaging waste obligations by gaining Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) which Mainetti is able to produce on behalf of the customer.

Mainetti remains upbeat about the recycling sector of the business and has a sharp eye on the future. Newton says: At the end of the day were trying to evolve a servic

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