How long until it’s gone?

Estimated decomposition rates of common marine debris items:

How long until it's gone?

Glass bottle: 1 million years
Monofilament fishing line: 600 years
Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years
Disposable diapers: 450 years
Aluminum can: 80-200 years
Foamed plastic buoy: 80 years
Rubber boot sole: 50-80 years
Foamed plastic cup: 50 years
Tin can: 50 years
Leather: 50 years
Nylon fabric: 30-40 years
Plastic film canister: 20-30 years
Plastic bag: 10-20 years
Cigarette filter: 1-5 years
Wool sock: 1-5 years
Plywood: 1-3 years
Waxed milk carton: 3 months
Apple core: 2 months
Newspaper: 6 weeks
Orange or banana peel: 2-5 weeks
Paper towel: 2-4 weeks


Sources: U.S. National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, FL and “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” Audubon magazine, Sept/Oct 1998.

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One thought on “How long until it’s gone?

  1. Pingback: Our great, blue landfill

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