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A very long time. Exactly how long depends a lot on the specific type of plastic as well as the environment that it is in. Exposure to direct sunlight helps speed up the process. Plastics never actually 'decompose', they merely break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Being an inorganic material, in never will compost.

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โˆ™ 2015-06-14 08:12:19
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Q: How long does plastic take to break down?
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How long does a plastic bag take to biodegrade?

Plastics in general are not considered biodegradable due to their molecular stability. Plastics do not easily break down into simpler components. A plastic bag will break down into smaller pieces of plastic, but that is not the same as biodegrading. Some estimates are 500 years to degrade, some more conservative are 1000 years. The bags will photodegrade, but that will take a long time, hence the 500-1000 year estimate. The problem is there are no bacteria breaking down the plastic. Eventually some may evolve to do so, but science may need to step in and speed the process along.


How many years do plastic bags take to break down?

If you leave a plastic shopping bag in the garage in relatively dry conditions it will not last more than 3-4 years. By then when you pick it up it will disintegrate. If it is wet in the ocean? Not sure


How long does it take for a paper cup to break down in landfill?

In a moist landfill a paper cup will biodegrade in 5 or 6 days. If it is coated with wax it will take several weeks.


Does plastic rot?

Plastic is not one material but has become a generic term to cover all polymers some of which will break down relatively quickly, but many, especially the ones in common usage today will take tens or even hundreds of years to disintegrate. This process in resistant long lasting polymers would not be thought of as rotting such as is bought about by fungal or bacterial decay. It would be more a matter of chemical processes aided by ultra violet radiation. No, plastic does not rot. It doesn't rot because it is not biodegradable, which means able to be broken down by bacterial or organic means. Because organics and bacteria cannot do this, plastic stays like it is just when you opened or used it for an irritating couple of centuries or so before it FINALLY starts to rot and break down.


What percentage does plastic take up in landfills?

Approximately 16% Plastic is very harmful to the environment because it takes such a long time to decompose!

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