A Greenpeace report allows us to know the estimated time required for various everyday products, such as a glass, a bag or a bottle. Surely you have ever considered it: how long does it take for plastic to degrade and disappear? To respond, we turned to a Greenpeace report that gives us data on this issue.

Plastic in the Ocean

Influential Factors

On what does a waste decompose sooner or later depend? Not all garbage takes the same time to do it. The two most decisive keys are the composition of the material and the environmental conditions. In particular, plastic is one of the strongest materials and therefore takes the longest to disappear.

As for environmental agents, we highlight the Sun. UV rays are the biggest enemy of waste.

This explains why decomposition in water is much slower than on land. In the sea, where the vast majority of the waste ends up, the waves and currents drag them down. Its impact accelerates decomposition, yes, but when these plastics reach the bottom, they are covered in organic and inorganic matter, which reduces their exposure to radiation from the sun.

According to the Type Of Product

What specific object have you thought about asking yourself this question? Coloured balloons are the plastic products that take the least time to degrade: about six months. If it seems like a lot, wait to know the following.

In order, butts take between one year and five; a shoe sole, between 10 and 20; a bag -the mythical shopping bags- about 55 years. How can something so small last so long? The glasses -the typical ones for celebrations- between 65 and 75; a lighter, about 100 years old. Exceeded this threshold, the figures are already disproportionate and we can expect everything. Thus, Greenpeace estimates that some cutlery can take about 400 years; a bottle, 500; and a fishing line, 600 or even more.

A lot, yes. And the consequences are very harmful to sea animals, who confuse the remains of these plastics with food or, directly, become entangled in them. As plastics break down, the initial unit is divided into smaller pieces, thus reaching microplastics.

Sometimes these are so small that they go unnoticed by animals that they ingest them. But it doesn’t stop there. There is evidence that these are transferred in the food chain and reach our dishes.

Faced with this situation, initiatives have been underway for years to reduce both production and consumption, although this is not an easy task. At the moment, there are several countries that have banned single-use plastic shopping bags. Without going any further, the European Union has established next year to start applying these measures to some of these objects, such as straws, sticks, cutlery and plastic dishes.

Various companies are also shouldering their shoulders in this fight against pollution, collecting waste through innovative systems, promoting other types of fishing, or paying local fishermen to collect it.

This is good news to avoid polluting the seas. However, from the environmental organization, they warn that the current amounts are so large that not only it is enough to enact laws, but also the individual responsibility of consumers is important.

War On Plastic

Precisely, this responsibility and how the daily life of an average citizen changes if they decide to commit themselves to reduce their consumption of plastics speaks about the documentary War on plastic, available on Movistar +.