From what I have gathered, it will never be thousands if not more years to biodegrade. In fact, I think the process is so slow, that it will never truly biodegrade. We will just have to figure out a way to deal with it or perhaps use it.
For bio-degradation to occur, you need microorganisms to break down the waste. Oxygen allows the process to occur faster. Water also helps. In most landfills, the waste is packed so tight and close together than oxygen cannot get in. There is not much dirt, so there are not a lot of microorganisms. Also, they refrain from using a lot of water, because it would end up going through the waste and leaking into our ground water.
A strong piece of evidence for this extremely ineffective process comes from a study done by University of Arizona (by Debra Lynn Dadd). This study showed that newspapers from 50 years ago were still readable and that hot dogs and grapes from 25 years ago were still recognizable. Newspapers are supposed to biodegrade in a few weeks, meaning that in the landfill, biodegradating is happening at a rate than is almost 900 times slower than usual.
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