Plastics giant Pran-RFL Group wants to import, process and reuse plastic clothes hangers that have been discarded by Western retailers, such as Walmart, Carrefour and H&M.
According to Pran-RFL officials, hanger manufacturer and exporter Banga Plastic International Ltd will take back the intact hangers to make them usable again.
More than a dozen Western retailers have contacted Pran-RFL because they cannot offload or recycle the hangers in the West, according to a letter sent to the Ministry of Commerce by Pran-RFL chief Ahsan Khan Chaudhry to obtain import approval.
“Foreign brands import clothes hangers from us, and they store them intact after the clothes are sold. We want to import the plastic item, process it, and export it to brands again,” he wrote in the letter.
According to the conglomerate, it produces about 27,000 tons of raw materials from 30,000 tons of used plastic annually. The raw materials obtained from recycling amount to Rs 400 crore. Recycled items include cups, buckets, bottles, and chairs.
Noting Pran-RFL’s growing focus on reuse and recycling, Ahsan Khan Chowdhury assured the Ministry of Commerce that the company’s operations to make hangers reusable would not have any negative environmental impact.
Banga Plastic exports Rs 5 crore piece of clothes hanger to overseas market annually. The company exports 10 kiahs directly while the remaining hangers go to foreign ready-to-wear retailers.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of the Pran-RFL group, told The Business Standard that the garment maker is sending its fabrics abroad with ties. Retailers prefer clothing over ties as it is easier to present products to customers.
“But when a customer buys a piece of cloth, they take the item into a shopping bag — and often leave the hangar in supermarkets. We’ll take back those clothes from the brands and make them available to local clothing factories for reuse,” she says.
Asked if Banga Plastic’s production would decrease if the old hangers were imported instead of making new ones, Kamruzzaman Kamal said, “Production will naturally decrease a little bit. But it will reduce the damage to the environment.”
He said Pran-RFL came up with the initiative as international buyers are interested in reuse rather than new products.
He inquired whether it is profitable to export hangers after manufacturing used hangers compared to exporting the item after manufacturing.
“Currently, only export-oriented clothes can import hangers because importing to others is prohibited. If the government allows us to, we will then estimate the profit margin,” he added.
The Pran-RFL group manufactures plastic products, among which are household items, pipes and fittings, clothing accessories and food packaging materials weighing about 3 tons per year.
Currently there are nearly 4,000 plastic products factories in Bangladesh with the country’s annual plastic consumption being 24,000 tons. Per capita plastic consumption is approximately 15 kg, while the figure is around 60 kg in many developed countries.
According to Bangladesh’s National Action Plan, which will be implemented with the help of the World Bank, the country has set a target of recycling 50% of plastic by 2025 as the rate is now hovering around 36%.