How Long Does It Take - State of Decomposition

Have you ever wondered how long a piece of trash lasts?

Ever wonder if it's harmful to you, the environment or wildlife?

What if it was just left there? What if no one cared enough to remove it? How long would it stay there?

Litter in South Carolina  Tires take 2,000 years to decompose Styrofoam cups take 50 years to decompose Cigarette butts take up to 5 years to decompose Bottle caps take 50 years to decompose and are recyclable Tin cans take 50 years to decompose and are recyclable Glass bottles take 1 million years to decompse and are recyclable Fishing net - nylon takes 40 years to decompose Monofilament fishing line - takes 600 years to decompose Plastic six-pack ring take 450 years to decompose and are recyclable Aluminum paint cans take 200 plus years to decompose Newspapers takes 6 weeks to decompose and are recyclable

Yes - Recyclable indicates that the items below are recycleable.

Item Time to Decompose
Aluminum Made from bauxite; its mining and processing is a major source of water pollution 200+ years Yes - Recyclable
BatteriesToxic materials are released into the soil and waterways as batteries break down slowly. Recent technology developments have allowed single use batteries to be recycled in a cost effective manner. 100 years Yes - Recyclable
Cigarette ButtsReleases deadly chemicals that accumulate in the the soil and waterways, passing up into the food chain of our wildlife. 5 years
Fishing Net (nylon)Discarded fishing nets can cause our wildlife to become entangled, limiting movement, and causing death in many cases. Nylon can be reused, but not fully recycled. 40 years
GlassBroken and discarded glass can cause deep cuts and injure us and wildlife. Glass bottles and jars are 100% recyleable; make sure you dispose of them porperly! 1-2 million years Yes - Recyclable
Monofilament (fishing line)Although there are alternatives to partially recover and reuse monofilament fishing line, the process is not widely used. As it accumulates in the environment, discarded fishing line entangles and traps our South Carolina wildlife. 600 years
Paper 6 weeks Yes - Recyclable
Six Pack Rings & Plastic Bags Traps, suffocates, disfigures, and causes death for land and marine animals. These materials often are light enough to float in water, and can be seen as food sources (a floating plastic bag looks like a jellyfish to a hungry sea turtle) to some animals. 450 years Yes - Recyclable
StyrofoamCreated from a number of dangerous chemicals including benzene (a type of carcinogen) and styrene. Because it takes so long to break down, Styrofoam effectively will never decompose. Never
TiresContain oils that contaminate the soil; they also consist of heavy metals such as lead, that can persist in the environment and accumulate over time. 2000 yearsYes - Recyclable

Did You Know?

Recycling, reusing, and remanufacturing accounts for 3.1 million jobs in the U.S. - that's roughly one out of every three green jobs!

States with deposits on bottles and cans receycle 75-95% of all cans sold. States without deposits only recycle 35% of cans sold. This can potentially threaten both tourism and recreation, taking critical dollars which add to local economies.

You Can Help!

Recycle more every day

Reject plastic - use reusable bags at the grocery store

Dispose responsibly