10  Materials That Have The Longest Biodegradation Time

10 Materials That Have The Longest Biodegradation Time

The type of products that you buy can make climate change worse. That’s because some materials can take years to degrade in landfills. When they do degrade, they release harmful toxins into the soil and into the air. The problem with growing landfills is that more space is needed for humans to put their trash. That means more habitat destruction, fewer trees to soak up carbon dioxide, and more threats to local wildlife. Here are a few materials that have the longest biodegradation time.

1. Polyethylene Resin Code #2 or #4

This material is most commonly found in plastic bags. Code #2 is a thicker type of plastic whereas #4 is a thinner material. Both can last anywhere from 500 years to 1,000 years in a landfill before finally degrading. It’s plastic bags that do some of the worst damage to local sea life.

Fish can become entangled in the bag and die. They’re unable to breed and make their population flourish.

This material is one of the longest-lasting plastics.

2. Polyethylene Terephthalate

This material is usually found in plastic bottles. It’s a type of phthalate which is already concerning to the human body. It takes anywhere from 70 to 400 years for this type of material to degrade in the landfill.

3. Aluminum

When not recycled, aluminum cans and other products made of aluminum can take up to 200 years to degrade. It’s a tragedy since aluminum is one of the easiest materials to recycle.

4. Polyethylene and Paperboard

Plastic, in general, also takes a long time to degrade. Certain products like milk cartons are made up of polyethylene, paperboard, and aluminum. It can take up to five years for milk cartons to decompose.

5. Polypropylene

This material can be found in certain products like baby diapers. It also uses other types of plastic and wood pulp. Baby diapers are known to take around 500 years to decompose. They’re among the worst types of products to throw into the trash. Polypropylene is the primary concern.

6. Glass

A type of material that will never biodegrade is glass. Even when glass is broken, it only shatters into smaller versions of itself. It’s not recognized as a food source for bacteria or other microorganisms. As a result, glass remains in the landfill forever. It’s a much better solution to recycle since it can be reused easily.

7. Polystyrene Foam

Polystyrene foam is popular in its use as an insulator and as a protector in packaging. It’s dense and firm enough to keep things protected without crushing them. The problem with this type of material is that it can’t be recycled. It releases toxic fumes, too.

It takes this type of plastic up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill if not longer. Since it isn’t recyclable, this is a type of plastic that needs to stop being produced.

8. Iron


Another material that takes years to degrade is iron. That’s because metal, on its own, won’t degrade. Iron will after several hundreds of years once it rusts. The rust causes it to degrade and decompose.

Other metals that don’t corrode will never degrade.

9. Cellulose Acetate

Most commonly used in cigarette butts, cellulose acetate also takes a long time to degrade. Considering how many cigarette butts litter the ground, there’s a lot of waste in the world. It can take cellulose acetate anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to degrade.

10. Monofilament for Fishing Lines

The type of plastic used to make fishing lines, monofilament, is also a huge problem. Not only does it entangle fish when it finds itself in the water, but it can also last up to 600 years. Even a few strands of it can cause havoc on the local wildlife and sea life since it lasts such a long time.

This type of plastic can be reused.

These are only some of the many materials that have a long biodegradation time. By limiting the use of them, stopping their use, or recycling them, you can do your part in making the world a greener and safer place.

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