How Long Garbage Takes to Break Down in a Landfill

solid waste
Waste Management Services West Virginia and Maryland
Recycling and reusing are the first steps to reducing waste.

Minimizing and managing our growing waste problem starts with the choices we make as consumers. We need to be more aware of how much waste we are creating with each product we buy. And, it goes beyond recycling. You need to know how long it takes for a material to break down, so you know how long it will take for your garbage to break down.

Choosing materials that decompose quickly

One of the biggest changes to waste management is recycling. Finding ways to reuse and recycle our trash, means that we are also reducing trash. Less trash leads to a cleaner environment, fresher air, and healthier lives. But, not all trash can be recycled, yet. But, by buying and using materials that biodegrade quickly will help us reduce our landfills. If we’re going to keep adding to landfills, make sure what we’re adding goes away quickly so we don’t get swallowed up by trash.

Reducing waste

The biggest offenders in the fight against a growing waste problem, are plastic bags, cigarette butts, plastic/foam cups, and disposable diapers. These are common items that every family (except for cigarettes) is currently using, or has used, regularly. Cutting these materials out of your repertoire will make a huge difference in reducing waste.


Reducing waste
A disposable diaper takes 450 years to biodegrade in a landfill.

We know that disposable diapers are easier, and parents are looking for any way they can to make raising a child a little bit easier. But, disposable diapers take 450 years (!!!!) to decompose. So, think about moving to reusable or cloth diapers as an investment in your kids future. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave less trash behind for them to deal with?

Plastic bags

If you don’t have a tote bag – or 20 – then you need to catch up. Plastic bags take between 10 and 20 years to break down. One bag may not seem to take up a lot of space. But, see how quickly you fill up a drawer or cabinet with plastic bags from shopping, and then imagine if everyone in the country had the same number of plastic bags. Please, bring your own bag.

Cigarette butts

You need to quit smoking. If not for your health, then for our health, and the health of the planet. Cigarette filters can take more than 10 years to decompose.

How long garbage takes to break down
Get a good reusable to-go cup and say goodbye to foam plastic cups forever.


Plastic/foam cups

If you see a foam or plastic cup, run the other way. And, if you succumb to thirst or the sweet aroma of fresh coffee and you just can’t resist, we hope you’ll love that foam cup for the next 50 years, cause that’s how long it will stick around on the planet.

Sunrise Sanitation provides waste management services to your home, business, or job-site. We also have 24/7 recycling drop-off centers throughout West Virginia and Maryland. To learn more about our services, please contact us.

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