How Long Does It Take Plastic to Biodegrade?

by Iria Vasquez-Paez about a year ago in activism

Quite Awhile

How Long Does It Take Plastic to Biodegrade?

Plastic takes approximately 450 years to decompose according to a Google search. Plastic items can take 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. Landfills consequently are not the best way to take care of garbage in general. Plastic bags take 10 to 1,000 years to decompose. With biodegradable plastic, decomposition can happen faster. Recycling plastic can make more plastic. Disposable diapers, for example, make up a huge chunk of what goes into a landfill. Sometimes ordinary people don’t see how much they contribute to the garbage problem, which is not getting any better if it takes diapers 250-500 years to decompose.

120,000 aluminum cans are recycled but aluminum cans are not necessarily reused, they take 80-200 years to decompose. Aluminum cans can be recycled into energy that can keep a 100-watt bulb burning, or that can run your television 3 hours at least. Aluminum cans make great earrings using acrylic paint. We need to find a way to make biodegradable aluminum. Plastic is worse than aluminum but then both are pretty bad in terms of our sustainability as a planet or even amongst individual countries.

The U.S.’s recycling rate is only 23% because we are looking to ban the bottle eventually.

Non-biodegradable plastic needs to be banned since it pollutes the sea floor in Taiwan and 91% of plastic is not recycled yearly. If that doesn’t scare you, watch the video about plastic found on the Taiwan sea floor. The amount of trash on this planet is appalling because it means that we are causing a huge problem for ourselves that few people talk about except environmental scientists. The average person needs to have a job that can help fix this problem.

Many new environmental jobs could be created because some people need to do something to resolve this disaster. You could easily say that many interested ex-cons could be hired to do something about this situation along with average people going aboard a seafaring ship that does nothing but clean up the plastic pollution in all major oceans. This is a serious problem, and if we do not do something about it, we wind up screwing ourselves over as a species. The problem is that we need to do something about the pollution on this planet but the current administration seems to feel that nothing can be done, so we should just ignore it?

Where does that leave a group of people who work tirelessly to resolve this issue? At least paper takes 2-6 weeks to decompose, as the least troublesome garbage decomposition rate. In contrast, food waste is the largest type of decomposing substance in a landfill. The most dangerous substance known to man is Styrofoam, which doesn’t decompose period. We need to invent containers that manage to decompose. Aluminum cans are worse, taking 200-250 years to decompose.

Batteries, on the other hand, can be recycled at any hardware store. They take 100 years to decompose. Cleaning up our garbage is one project and us humans need to take this clean up seriously from the 21st century all the way into the next century. You see, recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making more. Recycling is something we humans have to do daily in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

Another sobering fact is that 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled and recycling the other 75% would mean that we could save 1 billion gallons of oil, as well as 44 million cubic yards of landfill space. We need to get ourselves together when it comes to pollution on this planet. We can’t wait around 500 years for things to decompose. The bottom line is that we have to do something about this stuff.

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Iria Vasquez-Paez

I have a B.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State. Can people please donate? I'm very low-income. I need to start an escape the Ferengi plan. 

See all posts by Iria Vasquez-Paez