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How long does it take for plastic to degrade

Currently we live in a capitalist economic system worldwide that favors continuous consumption, that is why products are designed to last little for the purpose that was given to them in the beginning, that is, many have what is known as planned obsolescence . It could be said that our society is “throwaway”, but this requires a material that is not too expensive and that material is plastic. If you look around you, plastic is constantly in our lives: it is present in most containers, packaging, household appliances, toys and electronic devices, among others. With the “throwaway” system, as products increase, waste increases, having a serious impact on the environment.

If you want to know how long it takes for plastic to degrade and what consequences it has for the environment, keep reading this interesting AgroCorrn article in which we address the issue of how long it takes for plastic to degrade , its impacts on the environment and how to reduce its consumption.

  1. How long does it take for plastic to degrade?
  2. Environmental impact of plastic
  3. How to recycle plastic
  4. How to use less plastic

How long does it take for plastic to degrade?

Plastic is a material that takes a long period of time to decompose, since its decomposition process is very slow in nature. As a summary, we can clarify that, in reality, depending on the type of plastic, it takes between 100 and 1000 years to degrade , with an average of 500 years . Learn about the different types of plastics with this other AgroCorrn article.

Here we mention a couple of cases that are the ones that usually generate the most doubts due to the most used products:

How long does a plastic bottle take to degrade?

PET bottles are one of the most used plastic objects in the world and it is normal to wonder how long it can take to disappear if it reaches the floor of a forest or the sea. A plastic bottle of the PET type can take up to 1,000 years to decompose completely in nature.

How long does a plastic bag take to degrade?

Plastic bags are another of the most used objects around the world, although efforts are being made to return to the use of cloth bags, baskets, etc., to replace them where possible. A plastic bag can take more than 150 years to degrade .

Environmental impact of plastic

These are the main points of the serious environmental impact of plastic :

  • One of the most worrying impacts of plastic occurs worldwide, this being the pollution of seas and oceans . In fact, in the North Pacific Ocean, between Japan and California there is an area with a high concentration of plastic waste, this area receives several names and one of them is “the island of plastic” . In this other article we will tell you more about what are plastic islands and how they are formed and, furthermore, here below you can see a video about this problem of the oceans.
  • Plastic in the sea and ocean not only has an impact on the landscape, but also on its biodiversity. In the case of animals, these can become entangled with plastics or be injured and sometimes they can end up dying, causing a significant loss of biodiversity .
  • The most harmful plastics are microplastics, are smaller than 5 mm and although they may have been formed by the fragmentation of a macroplastic, they are also manufactured in this way for hygiene products such as detergents, toothpastes or exfoliants. These microplastics are small plastic particles that treatment plants are not able to retain and reach the sea directly. The consequence is very serious since they are ingested by animals, causing gastrointestinal problems and alterations in their life cycle or even killing them. In addition, these microplastics are transferred in the food chain reaching the food that humans consume, so we end up ingesting the microplastics ourselves, which we have produced. Macroplastics are also very harmful, but these can at least be cleaned more easily. Learn more aboutWhat are microplastics and their consequences with this other AgroCorrn article.

Although the seas and oceans are the ecosystems most visibly affected, plastic can end up in any corner of the planet: forests, natural parks, the streets we walk through, beaches …

How to recycle plastic

To recycle this material, it usually must be taken to the yellow container . In the yellow container you can throw only plastic containers and it is recommended that these be as clean as possible, because the less dirty reach recycling plants, better process will be carried out efficiently recycling. Next, some of the containers that can and should be deposited in these containers will be shown:

  • Bottles of water, milk, soft drinks and juices.
  • Bottles of bath gels and shampoo.
  • Bags that are used for frozen, snacks or the same plastic that we use to put things.
  • Cleaning products jars.
  • Butter trays or yogurt container.
  • Trays where packaged food comes.

It must be clear that not any plastic can be recycled in the yellow container and that is why they must be taken to a clean point . Waste that due to size and danger cannot be deposited in the yellow container is taken to these clean points . Some examples of things that we can not throw container to the yellow are:

  • Mop or paint buckets.
  • Plastic toys.
  • Objects such as mixers.
  • VHS and electronic devices.

We recommend that you also read these other AgroCorrn articles on How to recycle plastic at home and How to teach children to recycle garbage , because starting with their education we will be able to reduce or eliminate plastic in nature.

How to use less plastic

Plastic recycling is not proving to be as sustainable as it was believed to be, since not 50% of the products made with this material are recycled and in many countries they do not even follow recycling processes, that is why the most important is to avoid their use.

It is true that plastic makes our lives easier, but if we propose it, we can look for simple alternatives to its use in many aspects. What is more important, change some daily habits or take care of our planet? Here are some tips for using less plastic :

  • When we go shopping, bring our own bag, with this simple gesture, a large number of plastic bags are reduced. For example, for convenience to buy vegetables and fruit in large supermarkets, we take a bag for each product and then weigh it directly into the bag. It would really be better to carry ours, and it does not matter if we mix several products in the same bag, since once we get to the box, we can ask to separate it to weigh it. In many places you can find biodegradable plastic bags, and although this option is better than using the usual plastic bag, if we use reusable bags it will always be the most sustainable option. Find out more about this in this article on Alternatives for replacing plastic bags .
  • When we organize an event, instead of resorting to single-use cups and plastics, which also cannot be recycled, use those that are reusable, although they have to be cleaned later.
  • Do not use single-use plastic straws or straws to drink liquids or, if we do use them, that are reusable. The straws, in addition to not being able to be recycled, are dangerous for animals, since if they mistake it for food they can end up choking on them.
  • Buying food in bulk, there are more and more businesses that are opting for this method. In the end, the people have the power, if we demand businesses that sell their products in bulk, over time there will be more establishments that offer this service.
  • It is true that some territories do not have a good water purification system and their inhabitants are forced to consume bottled water, but for those who are lucky enough to live in a place with good quality purified water, the use of a A glass bottle to fill with tap water is an alternative to bottled water. Another idea is to get a homemade or purchased water filter and thus be able to drink tap water and stop wasting plastic bottles.
  • Avoid consuming coffee in capsules, as these cannot be recycled. In many shops you can already find reusable capsules, we fill it with coffee ourselves and, thus, we can continue using our coffee maker.

Find more ideas in this other article in which we give you Tips to reduce the use of plastics and packaging .

If you want to read more articles similar to How long does it take for plastic to degrade , we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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