Decomposition Rate of Plastic Waste
Many plastics are defined as non-degradable, meaning they fail to decompose and are instead broken down into smaller and smaller particles. Materials can slowly break down through photodegradation (from UV radiation). Estimated decomposition times for plastics and other common marine debris items are shown in the chart below.
Fishing lines, for example, take an estimated 600 years to break down. Plastic bottles take an estimated 450 years.
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