It takes an extremely long time for trash to break down in landfills. Sunlight, moisture, and oxygen are all necessary to break down trash, and because there is little of all three in landfills, decomposition does not happen quickly – the estimated times for some landfill components to decompose is quite shocking. Plastic bags, for instance, can take anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years to decompose, and although they can photodegrade, landfills don’t receive nearly as much sunlight needed for it to happen quickly. 40-year-old newspapers have been rediscovered from excavated landfills, and the print on the paper was still readable. Glass is composed of silica, which is the same material as sand, and won’t break down in even the harshest of weather. That being said, it could take thousands, maybe millions of years for glass to decompose. No matter the kind or quality of trash, it takes years for it all to break down in landfills.
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