Plastic bags may be thin, but they are also made out of synthetic materials that microbes in the soil are not used to trying to break down. The bags easily break apart into small pieces over time, but this does not necessarily they are less harmful to the environment. Tiny particles of plastic from bags and other sources of plastic pollution end up polluting the air and water. When many plastic particles eventually end up in the ocean, they may be mistaken for food and eaten by marine animals; plastic pollution is a major source of death and injury for ocean-dwelling animals. Finally, a landfill is not actually an ideal environment for any material to decompose; trash in a landfill is packed close together without access to much oxygen or water, meaning that even materials much more biodegradable than plastic take a very long time to break down. It’s estimated that much of the plastic from disposable shopping bags thrown in landfills could still be around 1000 years from now.
The ingredient in plastic bags, polyethylene, is not biodegradable.
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