Can I recycle ... dry cleaner bags and hangers?
In Los Angeles, yes. The plastic bags that cover dry cleaning are generally made from linear low density polyethylene, or LLDPE plastic No. 4 — an unpigmented plastic film that feels slightly tacky to the touch.
Hangers that are made entirely of metal are recyclable, as are hangers made entirely of plastic.
Hangers that are a mix of metal and plastic cannot be recycled in the blue bin because the mixed materials cannot be readily separated. Plastic or metal hangers that incorporate an easily removed second material (i.e. paper wrapping on a metal hanger, or metal clips on a plastic hanger) can be recycled if the two materials are separated.
Reusing is preferable to recycling. Many dry cleaners take back hangers and reuse them. Some dry cleaners also take back plastic bags for reuse or collect them on-site for recycling. Reusable dry cleaning bags made from water-resistant (and recyclable) polypropylene, such as those made by the Green Garmento, are also available. Check with your dry cleaner to see whether they will use a Green Garmento bag, or switch to one of the 600 dry cleaners that already use them, including the Flair Cleaners chain.
Because policies and recommendations can vary from city to city, each week we ask a sampling of officials from various municipalities to weigh in. Can you recycle dry cleaner bags and metal hangers in…
Burbank: No for bags; the city suggests recycling them at grocery stores that collect plastic No. 4 bags. No for hangers; the city suggests hangers be returned to cleaners or dropped in the Burbank Recycling Center’s mixed metal or mixed plastics bin.
Long Beach: Yes for bags. No for hangers.
Manhattan Beach: Yes.
Torrance: Yes for bags if they are marked with a recycling symbol. Yes for hangers.
West Hollywood: Yes.
-- Susan Carpenter
Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Each week we explain the recycling potential for an item that might be confusing. Here are some previous Can I Recycle columns: