PEP and Ackermans hanger initiatives

Published: FY2023

Environmental savings through hanger transformation

The Pepkor group is undertaking a simple yet impactful change through its PEP and Ackermans brands, as well as within its logistics division, Pepkor Logistics (PKL). The group is transitioning from traditional plastic hangers to new, eco-friendly alternatives. This small act is a significant stride towards environmental sustainability.

The environmental issue with plastic hangers
The common plastic hanger, while seemingly harmless, has a considerable environmental impact. Recognising this, Pepkor is actively addressing the issue head-on. Renowned French fashion designer Roland Mouret likened plastic hangers to the ‘plastic straw’ of the fashion industry, noting that an estimated 85% end up in landfills worldwide. This amounts to about 8 billion hangers discarded each year in the U.S. alone. These hangers, typically made from non-recyclable materials like polystyrene or polycarbonate, take years to decompose. Pepkor’s shift to recycled hangers is a direct response to these environmental concerns.

Pepkor’s approach
PEP and Ackermans are moving away from white plastic hangers, made from virgin plastic, a long-time retail standard, to black hangers crafted from recycled materials. This change isn’t just about aesthetics; it signifies the group’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

The initiative involves not only replacing plastic hangers with recyclable alternatives but also eliminating hangers at the distribution centre (DC). This change significantly reduces the need for transporting ‘garments on hangers’ (GOH), a practice that previously required additional space and specialised handling, thus adding complexity and cost to the logistics process.

Streamlining logistics operations
By removing hangers at the DC level, PKL is changing how garments are handled within the supply chain. This shift allows for more efficient packing and transportation, optimising space in transport vehicles and storage facilities. The result is a dual benefit: substantial cost savings in packaging and transportation and a reduced carbon footprint through more efficient loading.

The PEP and Ackermans transition
The implementation of the approach to replace white hangers with black recycled hangers has been progressive to reduce landfill waste and realise cost savings.

Since mid-2018, PEP has been at the forefront of this initiative, adopting black hangers made entirely from recycled materials. The variety of hangers includes specific designs for bras, babies’, kids’ and adult clothing, shoes, jerseys, blouses and trousers, with and without clips.

Since launching the Black Hanger project, PEP has introduced over 30 million recycled hangers, resulting in 867 tonnes of plastic diverted from landfills and a reduction in carbon emissions of 16%.

In August 2023, Ackermans followed suit, implementing a similar transition to a no-hanger policy at the DC. This move has led to a 41% reduction in hanger requirements, translating into significant cost reductions and environmental benefits, such as diverting 732 tonnes of plastic from landfills and reducing carbon emissions by 16%.

Logistical efficiency and environmental benefits
The adoption of recycled hangers and the no-hanger policy at the DCs have had a positive ripple effect on packing, storage and transportation logistics. Notably, the elimination of hangers from 50% of clothing cartons has created more space for garments, reducing the need for new cartons by 10% and similarly decreasing the requirements for carton handling and storage in DCs and stores.

Pepkor’s commitment to a greener future
This hanger initiative is being progressively rolled out across Pepkor’s business units and the entire group, contributing to the group’s ‘road to green’ strategy.