NORMN created the first circular economy hangers.

NORMN: solving the massive problem of clothes hangers

Hangers are commonly treated as rubbish, both in homes and in stores, as schemes to recycle them are limited. NORMN Hangers addresses this huge waste problem with hangers made of recycled paper. This year an additional Transport hanger will be released, making a turn from waste to resource possible. Co-founder and CEO Pieter Theron tells their story.

“‘Shocked!’, ‘Outraged!’, ‘Really?’ These are typical responses received when I tell people that millions of garments they see in stores have been transported on another hanger, which was thrown away and not recycled or re-used.

But surely plastic hangers are recyclable/re-usable? 

Everything is recyclable, theoretically. As long as a scheme exits to easily collect, sort and distribute it. Here lies the problem with recycling plastic hangers. Collection schemes are typically one-product, manufacturer-based, i.e. only hangers from one manufacturer are collected per scheme. Or hangers need to be sorted before being collected, with no incentive to do so.

The result in the real world? Hangers are treated as rubbish with zero monetary value. They are simply binned.

How big is the problem? MASSIVE!

Let me give you example A: One of the leading UK retailers with a clear, defined environmental plan has one of the best, industry leading hanger collection schemes. In their own published figures, they collect around 120-150 million hangers per annum, which is up to 67% of the 220+ million hangers they use annually.

That means 70+ million hangers not collected, missing, every year. Potentially landfilled. By just one UK retailer. And these are the good guys…so imagine what goes on elsewhere!

« How big is the problem? Massive! »

And at home, hangers are not recyclable because municipal recycling schemes typically don’t accept them.

Six years ago, three friends decided to address this huge waste problem, and NORMN Hangers was born. Rather than develop a better system for exiting hangers, we looked at which collection systems already exists for other products, and developed an innovative hanger to fit into those schemes.

Paper/card is the most recycled material in Europe, with collection schemes available at every business, store, shopping mall, airport and home. Paper = obvious raw material choice.

Firstly we developed a new strong, durable, variant of SolidBoard™, made from compressed recycled paper fibres, in Holland. We then worked with fashion brands and designers to develop patented hanger designs that display garments in the best possible way, with emphasis on strength and aesthetics. We wanted NORMN hangers to not only match the functionality of traditional hangers, but also give brands something extra. In this case, a new fully printable communication platform.

What we created was not a hanger, but a 4-in-1 product:

  1. POS communication platform
  2. integrated swing-tag
  3. hanger
  4. tool to highlight CSR / sustainable actions

We successfully delivered orders in multiple countries including the UK and the US, Germany, Spain, France, Benelux and Scandinavia. Brands like PUMA, Topshop, Småfolk, Hilla and more choose NORM to help tell their own stories in-store.

But we quickly realised that to address the transport hanger waste problem we need a metal hook, because of automated rails at garment distribution centers. And after 5 years’ extensive R&D, with input from leading brands like Filippa K, we are proud to launch the NORMN Transport hanger in 2016. With a patented metal hook and SolidBoard™ body, it can do anything a plastic hanger can do. It is strong, durable, even printable, and most crucially easily recyclable. It can simply be placed in any existing paper/card recycling scheme, available everywhere. No need for complex, single-product collection/return schemes, our choice finally makes recycling transport hangers truly easy to adopt.

In addition, many companies already benefit from selling their cardboard waste to the recycling market, and the NORMN hanger fits 100% into these schemes. We’ve therefore turned a previous waste stream into a valuable resource.

We believe in a future with less waste, and we’re proud to help shape it!”

Pieter Theron, CEO and co-founder of NORMN Hangers 
Visit NORMN Hangers here

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