To throw waste in the nature, it is not without consequence … they remain there a long time, sometimes very, very long. An object that is casually thrown away will pollute sometimes long after we are no longer in this world. Here is a selection of objects or products with their “natural” lifespan: how long does it degrade without outside intervention, in nature?

Waste is a real tide that will eventually drown us; their recycling costs us € 10 billion each year.

How fast does our waste naturally degrade?

Lifetime of the most rapidly “biodegradable” waste:

  • Toilet paper: 2 weeks to 1 month
  • Core of apple: 1 to 5 months
  • Tissue paper: 3 months
  • Fruit peel: from 3 to 6 months
  • Newsprint: 6 to 12 months
  • Brick of milk: up to 5 months
  • Match: 6 months
  • Journal (daily): 3 to 12 months

Waste degrading from 12 months to 10 years:

  • Cigarette butt: from 1 to 2 years ( 1 butt is likely to pollute 500 liters of water, 1 m3 of snow is polluted by 1 butt)
  • Bus or metro ticket: about 1 year
  • Glove or wool sock: 1 year
  • Cigarette filter: 1 to 5 years
  • Candy paper: 5 years
  • Chewing-gum : 5 ans
  • Drainage oil: 5 to 10 years (1 liter of oil can cover 1000 m² of water and thus prevent the oxygenation of the underwater flora and fauna for several years.) Also rejected in the water network Waste oil clogs filters in water treatment plants and disrupts biological purification processes.)

Waste degrading from 10 years to 1000 years:

  • Steel can: 100 years
  • Aluminum can: 10 to 100 years old An average adult consumes close to 600 cans of soft drinks a year.
  • Rubber tire: 100 years
  • Plastic lighter: 1 century
  • Wooden board (painted): 13 to 15 years
  • Cesium 137: 30 years
  • Tin can: 50 years
  • Polystyrene container: 50 years
  • Polystyrene object: 80 years
  • Aluminum box: 100 to 500 years
  • Mercury battery: 200 years
  • Disposable diaper: 400 to 450 years
  • Sanitary towel or tampon: 400 to 450 years
  • Plastic bag: 450 years
  • Modern fishing net: 600 years

Lifetime of the most resistant waste:

  • Phone card: 1000 years
  • Expanded polystyrene: 1000 years
  • Plastic bottle: 100 to 1000 years
  • Ski pass: 1000 years
  • Expanded polystyrene: 1000 years
  • Glass: 4 to 5000 years

Life expectancy of nuclear waste:

  • Iodine 131: 8 days
  • Iodine 125: 60 days
  • Radium 226: 1600 years
  • Carbon 14: 5730 years
  • Plutonium 239: 24,000 years
  • Potassium 40: 1.3 billion years
  • Uranium 238: 4.5 billion years

A family of four generates 1.5 t of waste per year (24 liters per day) compared to 350 kg for a single person (6 liters / day).

The batteries : eternal life

Plastic lighters : 1 century


1 / I put in the sorting bin:

  • Steel and aluminum packaging (cans, canned crushed and melted at 1600 ° C, aerosols, …)
  • Packaging in paper and cardboard (box of cereals, cakes, …)
  • Food bricks (milk brick, soup, …)
  • All newspapers and magazines (without their plastic film)
  • For plastic, I only sort bottles and flasks (water bottle, dishwashing liquid, shower gel or shampoo, …)

2 / I put in the glass container:

  • Bottles, jars, pots and other containers.
  • Dishware, porcelain, faience do not recycle.
  • Glass, which is also recyclable, is often collected in dedicated containers (but sometimes it has to be put together with cardboard and tin cans). Mixed with other products, the glass breaks and makes recycling impossible.
  • Deposit the glass, without cap or lid.

3) I equip myself with a practical bin

  • A trash can easily accessible and easy to use allows to have the reflex sorting.
  • Display near the bin, the sorting rules in force in your municipality (this varies depending on where you live).
  • Our favorite bin (and by far) Ovetto, the sorting bin design!

4) I do without packaging and therefore waste to sort

  • Buy products with less packaging (bulk, large portions, …) whenever possible. This reduces the need for sorting.
  • Packaging is still too important a part of our bin. It is 50% by volume and 30% by weight of the millions of tons of garbage produced each year by the French.

According to a study conducted by Eco-Emballages, published on November 16, 2007, the quantity of packaging used in France between 1994 and 2006 decreased: the number of tons of packaging produced decreased by 5%.

5) I do not wash the packaging before disposing

  • Just empty the packages to prevent them from dirtying other waste. .
  • Washing the packaging consumes water; water that will then need to be reprocessed to make it drinkable again.

6) I compact everything that can take up less space

  • Compress the bottles, crush the packaging and cardboard boxes, … to reduce the volume of your trash.
  • The volume of garbage cans is expensive, not just their weight.

7) I compost the most green waste possible

The plant waste (peelings, ….) Take up much space in a dustbin.

  • Putting them in compost makes it possible to lighten the weight of the garbage cans. .
  • See the shop and composters

8) I avoid plastic bags

  • Plastic bags are in themselves a real sore but they have a second disadvantage with regard to recyclable waste.
  • If you put your waste in a plastic bag, you prevent the sorting of waste in sorting center.
  • It is necessary to place its recyclable waste in bulk in the sorting bin (green bin in Lyon for example, Violette in Marcq in Baroeul, etc.)


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