It’s no secret that waste is a huge problem we human folk face in 2016. The UK alone has a population of over 64 million tea drinking, stiff-upper lip homosapians, all of whom chuck out a huge amount of rubbish every single day. One household in the UK throws away a tonne of waste every year, with the country as a whole wasting a massive 31 million tonnes per annum. But how long does it take for all of that waste to decompose? Number 4 may surprise you.
Plastic – 450 years
From food containers to bendy rulers (which were the thing circa 2005), plastic is used a lot and ultimately gets thrown away a lot too. We approximately use 1.6 barrels of oil each year just producing water bottles – it’s thirsty work.
Disposable Nappies – 550 years
It’s no surprise that people are keen to throw away a nappy full of hellish materials; in the US alone 18 million of the delightful packages are disposed of each year. It’s fab to know that our great-great-great-great grandkids will still be around when the diapers of today are still deliciously decomposing – it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Aluminium Cans – 80 to 200 years
In a three month period, the amount of cans thrown away in the UK could build a commercial air fleet. Although many of us would not be comfortable flying to our sun-soaked holiday aboard a plane made of cans, it should be enough to inspire us to become recycling angels – you know, like Charlie’s Angels, only with less high kicks and more separating of the appropriate materials.
Sanitary Towels – 500 to 800 years
Finally the answer you’ve waited your whole life for – how long does it take sanitary towels to decompose? Grim as this thought may be, the fact that it could take 800 years for such an essential product to decompose is quite shocking. To give you some spec, 800 years ago people were dying of the Black Death and we’re no doubt looking extremely Game of Thrones esque.
Cigarette Butts – 10 to 12 years
It is claimed that one cigarette takes 7 – 11 minutes off your life. That same cigarette then takes over ten years to itself decompose.
Styrofoam – NEVER * dramatic claps of thunder *
The thing that everyone’s favourite greasy kebab comes in on a Saturday night in fact, will never decompose. In a similar way to the shame that we bring upon ourselves on a Saturday night will never decompose – the irony is real.
By Isabelle Bates