Decomposition Time Of 50 Everyday Items Around Us

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Earth has a way of taking back everything it gives birth to. As in, everything that originates on this planet gets absorbed back at some point in time. All non-living things are broken down over time into smaller forms and molecules by the influence of microorganisms, natural elements, or even just the influence of time. However, what is interesting is that not all objects have the same decomposition time. Some take days, while some may take thousands of years, or even longer. 

Earth Has A Different Decomposition Time For Everything

Cigarette Butts:

Perhaps the most common litter that is found, the amount of time required for decomposition ranges from 18 months to as long as 10 years.

Monofilament Lines for fishing:

decomposition time

This dangerous item that often traps marine animals requires a massive 600 years to get decomposed.

Plastic Bags:

One of the most commonly found pollutants in the environment, plastic bags can take nearly 1000 years of decomposition time. 

Foam Plastic Cups:

Although they have a faster rate of decomposition, they remain unbroken for as long as 50 years.


This everyday item often fails to see the insides of a recycling bin. The time needed for their decomposition is 200 years. 

Wet Wipes:

decomposition time

Commonly used to remove makeup, or change the diapers of a baby, these wipes take nearly a century to break down in nature. 

Holders of 6-packs:

These feeble can holders can take somewhere near 450 years to break down back into nature.


A very common material used in making cans and electronics, tin can require 50 years to get decomposed.


This common necessary evil is found everywhere around us, the problem is along with taking 2000 years to get decomposed, they also release a ton of toxic chemicals.

Fishing Nets of Nylon:

These kinds of nets are often used by fishermen, but they take nearly 40 years to decompose once dumped.

Nylon Fabric:

decomposition time

Often used to make equipment like mesh shorts for sports, this material takes as long as 40 years to decompose.

Plastic Bottles:

These are some of the easiest items to be recycled. But once dumped, they can take nearly 450 years to fully break down.

T-shirts of Cotton:

Probably the most common form of waste from the fashion segment, these apparels take about 6 months of decomposition time.

Wool Socks:

These items are considered non-donatable, but unlike t-shirts, they remain in the environment for up to 5 years once dumped.

Synthetic Fabric:

These materials are made in factories and unlike elements that occur in nature, they take over a hundred years to break down.

Aluminum Cans:

decomposition time

Even though they can be recycled multiple times, aluminum cans can take a hundred years to break down, and centuries to fully decompose.


This common form of kitchen waste does not take long and can be decomposed as quickly as a week to a month.

Orange Peel:

Unlike vegetables, fruits usually take longer because of their acidic content. Orange peels stay in nature for about 6 months before being decomposed.

Banana Peels:

Like oranges, bananas take nearly as long to get decomposed and stay in nature for nearly 6 months.

Read: China Food Waste Law Clamps Down On Binge-Eating Videos: Illegal Even To Order Too Much Food

Hairspray Bottles:

A common sight in the landfills, these aerosol containers take nearly half a millennium to get decomposed.


Ropes are one of the most commonly used items and take around a year to get decomposed. It also depends on the material used to make the rope.

Tampons and Pads:

A necessity for women, these items are not easy to break down and stay in nature for as long as 25 years.

Cotton Gloves:

Fairly quick to get decomposed, cotton gloves stay in nature for a mere three months before they get decomposed.

Latex Gloves:

decomposition time

Unlike their cotton counterparts, latex gloves take a little longer to get decomposed and stay in the environment for a year or so.


The use of this item is nearly everywhere and is a common waste item. The decomposition time of threads is somewhere around 3-4 months.

Paper Waste:

This form of waste does not cause many problems and decomposes within a few weeks of being dumped.

Read: Indian Woman Makes Seed Paper Napkins From Wet Waste At Home


A common element from the periodic table, iron takes several years before oxidizing and completely breaking down.

Food Waste:

A very common form of waste, depending on the item, food waste can take from several months to even several years of decomposition time.


Leather shoes can take as long as 40 years to get decomposed completely.

Rubber Soles:

decomposition time

Unlike the shoe, the sole made from rubber can take as long as 80 years to get broken down entirely. 


Arguably the most common material used for packaging, cardboards can stay in nature for nearly 2 months before they are decomposed.

Train Tickets:

Usually made from paper and coated with other materials, train tickets take 2 weeks before being absorbed in nature.


This material is used most commonly by painters and can take up to a year of decomposition time.

Paper Towels:

A common material often found around us, paper towels have a fairly quick decomposition time of 2-4 weeks.

Read: Rethink The Massive Impact Of Plastic Razors On The Environment: Alternatives Exist

Waxed Milk Cartons:

This item used to hold milk is usually not recycled but they decompose fairly quickly within 3 months of being dumped.

Non-Waxed Cartons:

Taking a lot of materials during their production, non-waxed cartons take somewhere around 5 years to decompose completely.

Disposable Diapers:

A necessity for taking care of children, disposable diapers take a massive 500 years of decomposition time before they are fully absorbed by nature.

Rubber Bands:

decomposition time

These materials are fairly quick in breaking down and take a maximum of a year before they are completely decomposed.

Painted Boards:

Often replaced with newer replacements in the fence, painted boards stay in nature for as long as 13 years.


Thick, heavy, and solid in nature, lumber can take a decade of decomposition time.


Much thinner in nature than lumber, plywood decomposes fairly quickly and takes somewhere between 1-3 years.


A common item to be used in our daily lives, batteries need a massive 100 years of decomposition time.

Ink Cartridges:

Used in printers, ink cartridges take as long as a millennium before they are decomposed by nature.


A common material often used for various purposes, leather can take nearly half a decade of decomposition time before they are completely absorbed.

Plastic Bottle Caps:

Made from a different kind of plastic than the bottles, the caps may need as much as 500 years of decomposition time.

Apple Cores:

Unlike other fruits, apple cores have a shorter decomposition time and can take up to 2 months after being dumped.

Polyurethane Cushions:

decomposition time

Often found in car seats, they take as long as a millennium before they are completely decomposed.


Apparently fragile at first, glass is one of the most durable products and needs a decomposition time of over a million years.

Aluminum Foil:

Although easily recyclable, this material often ends up in waste. Aluminum foils never decompose. 


decomposition time

Just like aluminum, styrofoam has an infinite decomposition time and remains in nature for an unaccountable amount of time.

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