Ecology

Which materials take the least time to degrade

When talking about materials, sometimes we are not aware of how polluting they can be when they are discarded or how long it takes to degrade in nature. There are some more dangerous than others, just as there are materials that take longer to decompose than others. For example, how long it takes for biodegradable materials to decompose is not the same as those made of glass or plastic.

Which are the materials that take the least time to degrade

Can you tell how long an apple takes to degrade? How long does it take for a banana peel to degrade? How long does it take for orange peel to degrade? How long does it take for paper to degrade? Or, how long does it take for wood to degrade? In short, how long does it take for different types of garbage that come from organic and inorganic materials to degrade? We asked mainly about organic materials because they are the materials that take the least time to degrade in nature, but there are also inorganic materials that take a few years but not as many as other inorganic materials do. We will provide answers to these questions below:

  • Generally, a food with little or no processed, as natural as possible, can have a degradation time of up to 6 months . For example, 6 months is what an apple or orange peel needs to decompose. However, the banana skin takes about 4 weeks .
  • Paper is one of the materials that takes less time to degrade, since it does so in approximately 1 year , although it may take less time if factors such as rain intervene. Although its degradation time is short, it will always be better to recycle it to avoid deforestation. Here you can learn more about how long it takes for paper to degrade .
  • Wood is a natural material and it is estimated that it degrades between 2 and 3 years .
  • Chewing gums take up to 5 years to disappear, all thanks to the action of oxygen that makes them harden and break apart until they disappear. Here we detail more about how long a chewing gum takes to degrade .
  • Aluminum cans , used to package so many products such as soft drinks, juices, beers or food, take 10 years to degrade. Learn more about how long it takes for metal to degrade , such as aluminum and others, with this other post.
  • Tetrabrik containers made of 20% polyethylene, 75% cellulose and 5% aluminum, take up to 30 years to degrade. The last material to degrade from this container is aluminum.
  • Steel and plastic lighters have a degradation time of up to 100 years , and these are also highly polluting as some models contain zinc, mercury, arsenic, cadmium or lead.

All the aforementioned materials can be recycled or deposited in clean points to be well managed. Here we tell you where to recycle the materials that take less time to decompose :

  • Organic matter, that is, food waste and garden waste, can be used to make compost or if not, it must be deposited in the containers intended to collect said waste, that is, in the brown container .
  • The paper or even the cardboard must be recycled, for this there are containers ( the blue container ) destined for the collection of said materials. It is important to know that if these materials are dirty with organic matter from food, or similar residues, they cannot be recycled since the recycling process would be altered.
  • The wood must be taken to the clean points that can be found in cities and towns, although also if it is an old wooden furniture, there is always the possibility of giving it a new use by rebuilding it, that is, practicing Upcycling .
  • The chewing gum must be deposited in the garbage where all the waste that cannot be recycled and will end up in landfills is thrown away, that is, it must be thrown away in the waste containers (they are usually gray or dark green in color).
  • To recycle the cans and tetrabriks containers they are deposited in the containers destined for these materials (yellow container), later these will be separated to take them to their respective recycling plants.
  • Steel and plastic lighters are better to take to a clean point, since these also take up to a century to decompose and can be very polluting.

We already know which are the materials that take the least time to degrade , but which are the materials that take the longest to degrade or decompose in nature? Here are some examples:

  • Plastic bags , which we generally use when we go to a store to make a purchase, can take up to 150 years to degrade.
  • Batteries , if they are left in the middle of nature or deposited in containers that take waste to landfills, take between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade, being very dangerous since they are highly polluting. That is why batteries must be treated correctly. 
  • PET bottles are very present in our lives since they are used for water packaging. Soft drinks, juices, among other products, take approximately 1,000 years to decompose.
  • Glass , used mainly for the production of containers for a large number of products, takes up to 4,000 years to degrade

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