Originally Posted by travlineasy
There is a biodegradable plastic available, but it's tensile strength is garbage. It's made with corn starch, and takes about 6 years to fall apart. And, it needs direct sunlight in order to deteriorate into dust. When buried in a landfill, it lasts forever. The only real benefit of plastic over paper is that it takes up less space in the landfill and you don't have to kill a tree. The manufacturing process of paper wraps is far more costly, more environmental damaging and it too tends to last forever when buried in a landfill. There's an outfit that was featured on the discover channel that found 100 year old newspapers in a NY landfill that were as good as the day they were printed - preserved perfectly by the soil they were encapsulated within. Go figure.
Most people think that trash is supposed to decompose in a landfill. The opposite is actually true. Landfills have a water proof liner and a clay water proof cap. Idea is to try to keep all water out so the leachate does not contaminate water sources. In the process, there is very little oxygen in a landfill. Landfills actually produce methane that can be burned and used to produce electicity by using a gas turbine.