Get to Know the Different Types of Waste that Are Hard to Decompose and the Time!

Hard-to-decompose waste and its time – Hello Sinaumed’s friends , did you know? Garbage is a serious problem today, not only in Indonesia but also in most countries in the world. Unfortunately, although the amount of waste continues to increase day by day, public awareness to reduce waste is very low. Not to mention reducing the amount of waste, disposing of waste in its place is still difficult.

Although it seems trivial, it actually has the potential to damage our planet. Apart from polluting the earth, some types of waste also take a very long time to decompose along with the soil.

Hundreds to thousands of tons of waste are generated every day. Waste comes from the rest of the business or from household use. With advances in technology, various products were born to meet people’s needs. In fact, we are used to using a lot of single-use products that are practically difficult to recycle. Called plastic, aluminum, glass, etc.

Each waste or waste has its own decomposition or application period. Even if not recycled, trash lands in landfills, in the nooks and crannies of cities, or piles up in the oceans, taking millions of years to decompose.

Or even the pieces that don’t rot and can’t decompose forever. How long does it take for the waste we produce every day to decompose? Take a look at the objects in the house, my friends. Is there anything that can be tempered with glass?

After wearing these clothes, what do you usually do? There are items that can no longer be used and must be thrown away, but there are also items that can be reused, you know.

Do you know? Currently, our earth is facing the problem of accumulation of too much waste and environmental pollution. This is because various objects that we throw away end up in the sea or on land and do not decompose quickly.

Objects around us that are immediately thrown away will remain on the surface because it takes a long time to decompose. It would literally destroy the earth. See the explanation below for several types of waste that are difficult to decompose and take a very long time to decompose and even take hundreds of years to do. Here’s the explanation!

List of types of waste that are difficult to decompose

Plastic waste

Plastic dominates all types of waste in society, from plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic straws and others. Plastic is made from petroleum. Plastic products can decompose in the soil for 1000 years, while plastic bags can take 10 to 1000 years. Plastic bottles can decompose in nature in about 450 years. Currently, plastic is the waste that takes the longest time to decompose.

Quoting the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia, the energy used to produce and transport plastic bottles can power 1.5 million cars per year. For that much energy, 75% of plastic bottles are used only once and end up as waste that pollutes the environment.

United States Citation According to the National Park Service , candy wrappers take about 20 years to decompose. Meanwhile, cigarette packs take more than 20 years to decompose.

The General Department of Waste Management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said that each plastic waste takes a different amount of time to decompose. Plastic bags will decompose in about 10 to 500 years.

Meanwhile, plastic straws decompose in about 20 years. Plastic cups decompose in about 50 years. Packaging takes about 50 to 80 years to decompose. Styrofoam is not biodegradable.

Even though plastic waste can decompose for tens to hundreds of years, it will not disappear completely. Leftover plastic waste turns into microplastics, tiny particles invisible to the naked eye.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) explains that plastic waste breaks down into microplastics which are eaten by fish or livestock. It is harmful to the health of animals and humans who consume it. Risk of causing disease.

The time it takes to decompose plastic waste is very dangerous for the environment, because it will continue to accumulate, including being scattered in the oceans. This situation will threaten the destruction of marine ecosystems, quoted from the Marine Garbage website. Plastic scattered in the oceans accounts for around 60-80% of other types of waste.

According to the records of the People’s Alliance for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), every year in Indonesia, 1.29 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into rivers and seas.

As a result, many sea creatures die from ingesting plastic waste. A 10-year-old sperm whale was found beached on Luskentyre, Harris Island, Scotland, in November 2019. When the Scotland Marine Projects team performed an autopsy, they found a large amount of plastic waste in the whale’s stomach. Here are some types of plastic waste

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1. Plastic Bag

Using plastic bags for shopping or storing anything is what we often do today. Apart from being used to accommodate many items, plastic bags are also safer because they are not waterproof.

It turns out that it’s not only water that has difficulty getting into plastic bags, even our earth has difficulty decomposing the plastic bags we use. It is so difficult that it takes our earth from 10 to 1000 years to destroy this amount of plastic bag waste.

The bigger and better quality plastic bags, the more difficult it is for the waste to decompose in the soil.

2. Plastic Bottles

Apart from soft drinks, drinks in plastic bottles are also a favorite of many people. In fact, just like plastic bags, plastic bottles are also very difficult to decompose by soil. To decompose plastic bottles, soil takes 70 to 450 years to decompose.

3. Styrofoam

Lastly, there is Styrofoam foam which is also one of the most hazardous wastes. This is because styrofoam is made of polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic material, so soil cannot decompose properly. That is, when the styrofoam that we used 20 years ago was still around, the amount of waste from styrofoam was increasing and how long would it take to fill the earth.

Some of the items above are useful, but on the other hand, this waste is very harmful to the earth. Worse yet, there is no sense in disposing of waste in its place, making this waste not only contaminate the land, but also pollute the oceans and harm other creatures that live there.

4. Baby Diapers

Older parents preferred to use cloth diapers for their babies. Over time, plastic and cotton baby diapers began to replace cloth diapers. Even though these diapers can absorb more of your baby’s urine and are easy to use, the diapers currently used are not easily decomposed by the soil.

Compared to disposable bottles, baby diapers take longer to decompose into the soil, around 500 years to decompose. Even worse, baby diapers also lead to increased pollution and energy wastage because a lot of water is needed to make baby diapers.

Why does plastic waste experience a very long decomposition process?

In general, almost all the plastic in the world is made from petroleum. If you are familiar with gasoline and diesel, these materials are often used to make them. Plastic is an organic compound composed of carbon atoms arranged in long chains. These long chains are called polymers and monomers (smallest polymer units).

Polymers are a group of natural or synthetic substances composed of very large molecules, called macromolecules, which are multiple units of simple chemical units called monomers.

So the word polymer just means a large number of monomers. Polymers are not limited to monomers having the same chemical composition or structure and the same molecular weight. Some natural polymers consist of only one monomer

Natural polymers include living and synthetic organisms. Examples of polymers that include living organisms are proteins, cellulose, and nucleic acids. For example, the solid parts of all trees are made of polymers. These include cellulose, lignin and various resins. Cellulose is a polysaccharide, a polymer made up of sugar molecules. (in English) . Cellulose is found in the structure of the cell walls of all plants. Lignin consists of a complex three-dimensional polymer network.

Wood resin is a polymer of the simple hydrocarbon, isoprene. isoprene can be found in rubber. Natural polymers in the presence of nucleic samples are DNA and RNA. As we all know, DNA carries genetic information in cells.

This long carbon chain makes it difficult for microorganisms to decompose plastic waste. By using enzymes, bacteria can use them as tools to cut and destroy things. However, it is different when these bacteria meet plastic. The reason is that no bacteria have cutting enzymes capable of cutting polymers.

The natural decomposition of plastic waste is actually caused by heat, humidity, pressure, and even solar radiation. However, this decomposition takes place over a long period of time.

If Sinaumed’s friends already know why plastic waste is difficult to decompose, please limit the use of plastic waste from now on. These can be plastic bags and others. So that our earth can be saved from the threat of garbage that can slowly kill our health.

The Dangers of Plastic Waste to Ecosystems

Basically, plastic waste is waste which basically has a bad impact if not handled wisely. If you adopt the 3R approach, of course plastic waste can have economic value, but more efforts are needed to educate and spin the wheel of recycling plastic waste in the right and fast way.

Irregular plastic waste spreads everywhere including in the sea, damaging the ecosystems of several species of plants and animals. The food chain is damaged, especially with plastic pollution which damages the condition of plankton, which are the smallest organisms in the world.

Plankton itself is a food source for small fish, if plastic waste spreads and decomposes it will cause microplastics to be consumed by fish.

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This condition causes fish for human consumption to contain harmful substances, namely microplastics. Apart from small animals, large fish also have the potential to consume food contaminated with polluting plastic waste.

It doesn’t stop there, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that millions of birds and fish per 100,000 mammal species have died as a result of the release of plastic waste in many environments.

Poor waste management is the main cause of the spread of plastic waste and eventually destroys the habitat of thousands of plant and animal species.

In addition to animals and plants, untreated plastic waste contaminates soil and groundwater. Therefore, special handling is needed to see which plastics are safe to use and which ones are dangerous or at least should be avoided.

Organic trash

Organic waste is waste that comes from plants or animals and can be decomposed naturally. Because of this understanding, many people believe that any organic waste that is thrown away will decompose by itself. It’s not easy. Some organic waste is difficult to decompose and even pollutes the environment.

It is important to understand the importance of properly disposing of organic waste to reduce various environmental problems caused by waste. Taken from the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (Call Recycle) website, organic waste is divided into four categories, food waste , food soiled paper , non -hazardous wood waste. ) , and green waste (green waste).

Of the four types, not all of them can decompose quickly and are harmless to the environment. In addition to the four categories above, animal waste, leather factory waste and animal carcasses are also included in organic waste.

1. Food Waste

Processed organic waste is different from leftover vegetable and fruit peels that are not processed. While vegetables, fruit peels and fruit scraps can be easily composted and processed in an environmentally friendly manner, processed food waste cannot be easily composted or eco-enzymatically.

Leftover food such as rice, cooked meat, vegetable soup and other leftovers can pollute the environment. Especially if leftover food gets dumped into the mix with other trash cans and ends up in a heap in a landfill.

If these leftovers accumulate and lack oxygen, they will produce methane gas which can explode in certain quantities. In addition, these food scraps also attract rodents such as rats, flies, cockroaches and mosquitoes, which have the potential to be a source of dangerous infectious diseases.

The best way to deal with this organic waste is to consume food, or it can also be used to feed maggots (maggots can eat rotting food scraps).

2. Food Soiled Paper

Tissue, paper, packaging, paper cups, cardboard, egg cartons and coffee filters are included in this organic waste. All of these can be broken down naturally, but take a long time to decompose. Paper takes about 2 to 6 weeks to decompose. Undyed brown paper bags may spoil in 6 to 8 weeks. This organic waste will more easily decompose if cut into small pieces, and can be used as brown organic waste in compost.

3. Non-Hazardous Wood Waste

Unpainted/coated wood chips, bamboo, coconut shells, twigs and sticks actually fall into the category of biodegradable organic waste. However, there are several things that make organic waste difficult to decompose. One of them is based on quite a long time. For example, a piece of wood from a tree, takes about 50 to 100 years to decompose if intact. If wood scraps are recycled into smaller sizes, the time needed to decompose is around 6 months to 1 year.

The decomposition time of wood waste is influenced by several factors, such as the type of wood, its size and method of decomposition. If wood, bamboo, or coconut shells are ground into powder or very small pieces, they can be used as additives in compost and the decomposition time will be faster. Aside from being a complement to compost, wood waste that is cut into small pieces can also be used as mulch for plants.

The Danger of Organic Waste that Can Contaminate the Environment

Apart from the three types of persistent organic waste, there is green waste which is highly biodegradable. Examples are dry leaves and dead leaves. The decomposition time for this green waste is very fast, only a few weeks. In addition, this green waste can also be used as compost and mulch.

On the other hand, organic waste which is quite difficult to decompose has the potential to cause environmental pollution if not handled properly. Methane produced from food waste can cause explosions due to lack of oxygen and exposure to sunlight. Leftover food will also create new toxic substances. These fluids can contaminate the water and soil around the pile. Not only food waste, other organic waste that takes a long time to decompose can also be dangerous because it takes up space.

The way to reduce the impact of this organic waste is to separate the waste. Not only organic and inorganic waste, but also organic waste and reuse.