How do we know that plastic bags take 500 years to decompose?

(ORDO NEWS) — Plastic bags only came into use in 1957, so this is obviously only an estimate and a rather rough one.

Polyethylene is known to degrade effectively when exposed to ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), but this requires intense and preferably continuous exposure.

Of course, plastic bags usually do not lie on a sultry beach, waiting for their decomposition, but end up in landfills, where they are quickly buried and deprived of the necessary radiation.

It is extremely difficult for bacteria and fungi living in the earth to digest polyethylene waste, since polyethylene does not exist in nature, so soil microorganisms that would be well adapted to its destruction have not yet appeared corny.

Probably plastic bags decompose in 300… or 1000 years

We are not sure about the time period that is required for the complete decomposition of polyethylene in nature, but we know for sure that human waste is bad, harmful and something needs to be done about it.

How do we know that plastic bags take 500 years to decompose 2

In 2016, bacteria of the species Ideonella sakaiensis , which preferred to feed on plastic waste, were accidentally discovered in a landfill in Japan.

It seems that our carelessness has accelerated the evolution that endowed these bacteria with an enzyme that allows them to digest plastic relatively quickly.

Research conducted in 2019 showed that if a similar enzyme can be synthesized in the laboratory, then plastic waste can be recycled at least 100 times faster than Mother Nature does.


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