How Long Does It Take For Trash to Biodegrade?

Life Span of Litter 

  • Aluminum Can  200-500 years
  • Batteries – 100 years 
  • Cardboard Box- 4 weeks 
  • Cigarette Butt up to 10 years 
  • Cotton Rag- 1-5 months 
  • Disposable Diapers- 500-600 years  years 
  • Glass Bottle  1Million years
  • Leather- up to 50 years
  • Lumber- 10-15 years 
  • Monofilament Fishing Line- 800 years 
  • Milk Cartons (plastic coated) 5 years 
  • Nylon Fabric- 30-40 years 
  • Orange Peel- 2-5 weeks
  • Paper-2-5 months 
  • Plastic Film Container- 20-30 years
  • Painted Wooden Stake- 13 years 
  • Plastic 6 pack cover  450 years
  • Plastic Bag- up to 500 years 
  • Plastic Coated Paper- 5 years
  • Plastic Soda Bottles- Forever 
  • Rope-3-14 months 
  • Rubber Boot sole 50-80 years 
  • Sanitary Pads= 500-800 years 
  • Styrofoam- More than 5,000 years 
  • Tin Cans-50-100 years 
  • Tin Foil- It does not biodegrade 
  • Wool Clothing- 1-5 years

Landfill Waste 2003

  • 970 thousand tons of paper cups and plates were discarded in 2003 (EPA).
  • 64 billion paper cups and plates being thrown away every year in USA. 
  • 730 thousand tons of styrofoam and plastic plates and cups (710 thousand tons were styrofoam)
  • 73 billion mostly styrofoam cups and plates being thrown away every year in USA. 
  • 3,810 thousand tons of plastic containers & bottles were thrown away in 2003. 
  • 90 billion plastic containers & bottles being landfilled or incinerated every year. 

The above numbers do not include trash bags, grocery bags and other plastic materials like trays, utensils, clam shells, caps and other plastic packaging. A total of 8000 thousand tons of these items were discarded in 2003. 

 


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Comments

  1. Shannon says:

    Just curious where you got your information from? Can you site your sources?

  2. Cathy says:

    The statistics came from wikipedia, America the Beautiful, most Trash Trivia games. These seem to be the standards that were set about 10 years ago.

  3. Isabella says:

    You need to get your “science” from someplace other than Wikipedia, because your figures are preposterous.

    Whose guess was it that plastic bottles never biodegrade? Everything biodegrades.

  4. Cathy says:

    Not everything biodegrades, cement does not biodegrade, plastic take hundred of years to biodegrade.

  5. DEH says:

    How long does nuclear waste to biodegrade? Both medical/industrial and utility power plants?

  6. antjuanito says:

    makes you think twice about what you use, eh?

  7. EthanX says:

    What are the tests done in order to know this? How do scientists know how long it takes for things to decompose?

  8. Jake says:

    The earth will cease to exist in the next 90 years a predicted by some of the worlds top scientists including professor John Brown and Lord Martin Rees as well as many others. Yet we cannot accept the fact that the next few generations ahead will face the consequences that we have caused and are too ignorant to change. We have to alter the way we see the worldbecayse if we don’t life on earth will die out.

  9. Brigette LaFlamme says:

    Plastic does NOT biodegrade, because it is not make of organic matter. It simple breaks into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic until, after who knows how long, it is finally broken down to it’s molecular level. The molecules eventually break down into atoms, and the plastic no longer is plastic. Look in any scientific book about plastic, and you will find this information.

  10. Isabella says:

    AMAZING!! Thanks sooo much, you cited it, it is pretty useful information, and your site looks great! It was very useful for my science fair project and helped a lot. So once again thanks so much for this site! <3

  11. kelsey says:

    wow! great information: this was very helpful for a school project i had to do on biodegradeble materials and worm bins…best site I found on the internet! thanks so much!

  12. matt says:

    Dose anyone know what a plastic water bottle is made of and why it takes a long time to decompose?????? Just curious.

  13. kiki says:

    how can people heip with this problem

  14. kiki says:

    HELP STOP LITTER

  15. micha says:

    this is a good site i think about stuff that biodegrades or not and if it biodegrades you can eat it because it’s awesome

  16. F says:

    That is so interesting

  17. L says:

    How come a tin can deteriorates but tin foil does not?

  18. Nicole says:

    I LOVE SCIENCE AND MS. BREMER!!!!!!!!

  19. This is a good site but these are rough estimates.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The concentration of industry and people in cities meant that wastes accumulated in small areas and needed to be collected and transported outside the cities. The invention of plastics brought significant benefits to consumers, but also created problems because it can take thousands of years for plastics to decompose. Some plastics can be recovered and recycled, but others cannot. In fact, according to specialists, some types of plastics (such as soda bottles) will hang around forever. [...]

  2. [...] break down! It takes a simple plastic grocery bag YEARS to decompose in a landfill. Check out this list to see how long it takes certain things to biodegrade. According to Green Ecoservices, “90 [...]

  3. [...] light reading might inspire you to BYOB (bring your own bag) and skip the plastic sacks {head to http://www.greenecoservices.com/how-long-does-it-take-for-trash-to-biodegrade/ to see a full decomposing numbers}. It’ll take about 500 years to break down the plastic bag [...]

  4. [...] very slowly until it finally turns to soil. Under natural circumstances, however, this takes far too long. The range of biodegradation is 4 weeks for a cardboard box to 5,000 years for [...]

  5. [...] Most people surveyed say people littler because there aren’t enough trash cans. Funny, considering most littering happens within 6 yards from a trash can. This is crazy! If the fact that littler can destroy the environment and healthy communities doesn’t sway you, listen to the economic factors. In 2005, the lost scrap value of 135 billion wasted beverage bottles and cans exceeded $2.1 billion. This means that had these containers been recycled instead of trashed they would have been worth over $2.1 billion on the market. Also, litter cleanup costs the U.S. alone almost $11.5 billion each year. With these stats alone that would be $13 billion in the U.S. economy that we are currently wasting on litter! Enough said, please don’t litter and please spread the word! For a list of the life span of litter click here. [...]

  6. [...] Although my teacher got an “F” on the bean assignment, she is not alone. On a daily basis we use objects to our advantage and do not consider their complete lifecycle. We dispose of objects without regard to where the materials were extracted from (this goes way beyond reading the label that may state “Made in China”), where the object will end up after it’s used, and what persons or community will be effected by your use of such an object. Of the slogan “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,” reducing and reusing are key, which is why I give complete props to Krista’s post about reducing the amount of materials purchased and produce, by reusing other’s second hand items, and keeping them out of the landfills. [...]

  7. [...] years to biodegrade. In comparison, paper products which take less than six months to biodegrade (http://www.greenecoservices.com/). Bamboo is also a cheap and chic alternative to styrofoam and plastic plates. Depending on the [...]

  8. [...] Source: Trash life span [...]

  9. [...] Green Eco Services: How Long Does It Take For Trash To Biodegrade [...]

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