We are 7,500 million inhabitants on Earth, and the number continues to grow, it is expected that the figure will increase by 2000 million people by 2050. The production of waste is directly related to our consumption.
In developed countries, an average person produces 1 kilogram of garbage per day, while in developing countries it produces between 400 and 700 grams. This brings us close to the production of 7,000 million tons of waste in just one day.
Of these figures, most of the waste is not biodegradable and the time that elapses for some decomposition, at least partial, can be many years, in addition, some of these waste are highly polluting.
Breakdown time of some wastes
GIRLS: 5 years.
A chewed piece of chewing gum turns in that time, due to the action of oxygen, into a hard material that then begins to crack until it disappears. Chewing gum is a mixture of natural and synthetic resin gums, sugar, flavorings and colors. Weathered, almost no trace, anyway, 5 years is a lot.
SOAP CAN: 10 years
That is the time it takes nature to transform a soda or beer can to the state of iron oxide. Cans are typically 210 microns (microns, a measure of length that equals one millionth (10-6) of a meter) thick of varnish and tin-coated steel. In the open, it takes a lot of rain and humidity for the rust to cover it completely.
DISPOSABLE GLASSES: 1,000 years
Disposable polypropylene cups pollute less than polystyrene - the material used in egg boxes. But also they take time to transform. Plastic is reduced to synthetic molecules; invisible but always present.
BUTTS: 1 to 2 years
In the sun's rays, a filtered cigarette butt can take up to two years to disappear. The filter is made of cellulose acetate and soil bacteria, used to fighting organic matter, cannot attack it from the outset. If it falls into water, the disintegration is faster, but more polluting.
PLASTIC BOTTLES: 100 to 1,000 years
Plastic bottles are the most resistant when it comes to being transformed. Outdoors they lose their tonicity, fragment and disperse. Buried, they last longer. Most are made of PET or PVC, tough materials to crack: microorganisms have no mechanisms to attack them.
GLASS BOTTLES 4,000 years
The glass bottle, in any of its formats, is a very resistant object. Although it is fragile because with a simple fall it can break, for the natural components of the soil it is a daunting task to transform it. But the advantage is that it is 100% recyclable because it is made up of sand and sodium and calcium carbonates.
TETRA-BRIK: 30 years
Tetra-brik containers are not as toxic as one might imagine. Actually, 75% of its structure is cellulose, 20% pure low-density polyethylene and 5% aluminum. The thing that takes the longest to degrade is aluminum. Cellulose, if it is outdoors, disappears in just over 1 year.
PLASTIC CORKS: More than 100 years
Plastic corks are made of polypropylene, the same material as straws and yogurt containers. It can be recycled easier than mineral water bottles (which are made of PVC, polyvinyl chloride) and those that are made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).
BAGS: 150 years
Plastic bags, due to their minimum thickness, can be transformed faster than a plastic bottle. The sachets are actually made of low-density polyethylene. Nature often fights a tough "battle" against this element. And usually lost.
Compilation by CL Lidia Jiménez Cesá Dominican Republic