Estimated decomposition rates in 2017, by select material (in years to biodegrade)

Material decomposition rates 2017 This statistic represents the estimated decomposition rates of select waste materials in 2017. It is estimated that foamed plastic cups take approximately 50 years to biodegrade once they are disposed of.
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Years to biodegrade
Plastic water bottles450
Aluminum cans80
Foamed plastic cups50
Plastic bags*15
Cigarette butts*2.5
Years to biodegrade
Plastic water bottles450
Aluminum cans80
Foamed plastic cups50
Plastic bags*15
Cigarette butts*2.5
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Description Source More information
This statistic represents the estimated decomposition rates of select waste materials in 2017. It is estimated that foamed plastic cups take approximately 50 years to biodegrade once they are disposed of.
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Release date
November 2017
Region
Worldwide
Survey time period
2017
Supplementary notes
* These figures are originally listed as the following ranges: plastic bags 10-20 years, cigarette butts 1-5 years.

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