Mannequin Recycling &Sustainability

Since 2001 Mannequin Madness has provided mannequin recycling to retailers and museums.
For a list of clients who have used our services click here.

We facilitate the recycling of mannequins on a local, regional and national level. Our efforts divert an average of 1 million pounds of mannequins every year from ending up in landfills.

Here are the 7 most common questions about mannequin recycling.

If you are ready to recycle without needing to read the answers below, email us

1 Why Recycle Mannequins?

Mannequins, dress forms, head forms etc are made out materials such as fiberglass, metal, glass, plastic, styrofoam. These materials do not biodegrade so they should not be sent to landfills.

“The apparel industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry,” retailer Eileen Fisher has famously said (and repeated, and written, and tweeted).

While most of the pollution is generated in the pre-production stage of manufacturing clothing, there is a significant amount of environmental waste generated at the store level.

"What happens to inventory when a store closes?" - was the subject of this video by Circa news and they interviewed me.

2 How much do your recycling services cost?

Our mannequin recycling services are FREE. So not only do we make the planet more green but we put more “green” in your pockets. We eliminate the cost you would have to pay for waste disposal fees on a dumpster full of bulky mannequins.

You can deliver your unwanted mannequins to our headquarters in Oakland at no charge.Depending upon the quantity of mannequins you have we also arrange to  pick up them up at the store level or a regional distribution center

3 What cities is mannequin recycling available?

Mannequin Madness is located in the SF Bay Area. But we created an affiliate relationship with used mannequin vendors throughout the U.S. They assist when we need to recycle mannequins in other cities. We have an affiliate in most major cities in the US.

In cities where we do not have an affiliate we can arrange to have the mannequins shipped to our headquarters in Oakland, provided if is mutually beneficial financially and logistically.

The photo below is snapshot of the 3 truckloads of mannequins we had shipped from Los Angeles when American Apparel when out of business. Some of the mannequins were brand new, in the original packing.

4 Why are stores/museums throwing away their mannequins?

The average lifespan of a mannequin at a retail store is 7 years. Mannequin styles change just like clothing styles change and retailers have to stay on top of the current trends in fashion.

This is why a mannequin that is out of style but still in good condition, can end up in the dumpster.

The lifespan of a mannequin can be even shorter if a retailer goes out of business. Or the mannequin gets broken by a customer/staff person in the store.

Sometimes a new management team comes in and wants to completely change the visual displays that the previous team installed.

5 What do you do with the used mannequins ?

We repurpose (rather than recycle) them by extending their life cycle. We believe in the circular economy which is the contemporary version of “find a new use for an old thing in its existing form.”

My mom grew up on a farm in a rural part of Tennessee and recycling was just the natural way of doing things. Partly out of necessity and partly because when your livelihood is connected with the land you think about the environment in a different way. She instilled this value in me which is why I have been passionate about recycling mannequins long before it was the popular thing to do.

Mannequin Madness resells the mannequins at a deeply discounted price from the original cost. This allows small retailers and museums to stretch their visual merchandising budget.

And artists/makers/crafters use mannequins for all kinds of art projects like the mailbox in the photo below. Other examples of mannequin art projects are on our Pinterest board.

6 Are mannequins recyclable?

There are companies that recycle mannequins by strippingthem of all the fittings and materials that can be processed. The mannequin is then put in a grinder. (Note this only works for mannequins not dress forms.)

This process, which is NOT cheap, requires mass transportation to the plants, where they are granulated and used for fuel and in cement. Anything that is ground up and put into cement we question the environmental impact of burning such materials, due to their toxic fumes when incinerating. 

7 Do you ever have mannequins that you can’t use?

If mannequins are damaged or missing parts they are resold for Halloween Projects or Burning Man displays.

We have a zero waste policy for the mannequins we acquire. In 2003 we received a special achievement award from the Environmental Protection Agency for our mannequin recycling initiatives.

Green is the New Black

Recycling/repurposing mannequins is good for the planet. It is also good for the pocketbook (both for the company recycling the mannequin and the person purchasing the used mannequin.

And a used mannequin provides a canvas for unlimited creativity.

Fortunately our advocacy has resulted in more retailers using our services instead of waste management companies.

We want to add your company to our list of clients. Please complete the form below for more information about our recycling services.

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