GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 11:44:42 EST

Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 11:44:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Plastic breakdown in a landfill (Lisa Zwicky)

March 16, 1999

Dear Lisa Zwicky,

You may tell your client that according to the National Environmental Trainign Center for Small Communities (which is located at the University of West Virginia, Morgantown, the amount of time it will take a plastic container to degrade in a landfill is 20-30 years. My understanding is that this is a ballpark figure unless the container is sitting at the top of the landfill, subject to photodegradation as well as biodegradation, in which case (and unrepresentative case) it will take shorter. However, I don't believe that plastics truly biodegrade, as in get broken down into constituent parts. Most, if not all plastics, unless they are treated to not do so, simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces of the same substnace.

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