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How long does it take clothes to decompose in landfill?

The lack of transparency in the fashion supply chain blocks us from seeing exactly how much waste is created, where this waste is produced and the impact it has on people and the environment.

#1 - Heavy Wool Sweater


It takes about 1-5 years for a heavy wool sweater to break down.

#2 - Denim Jacket

For a denim jacket it takes about 10-12 months to decompose. (Considered it is made of 100% cotton.)

#3 - Merino Thermal Top

For a Merino Thermal Top (sometimes used as skiing underwear), it takes around 9 months break down.

#4 - Polyester Dress

A polyester dress will never really decompose completely but you could say that depending on the composition of fibers it takes around 20-200 years to break apart.

#5 - Leather

It takes around 50 years for a leather bag to break down. (Trimmings such as metallic buttons, zippers or polyester thread not counted in).

#6 - Viscose T-Shirt

For a viscose T-shirt it takes around 1-6 weeks do decompose.

#7 - Nylon Tights

As I wrote on the polyester dress, nylon does not in my opinion truly break down completely. But according to Fashion Revolution it takes around 30-40 years for a pair of nylon tights to break apart.

#8 - Lycra Sportswear

Same thing with the material lycra as the other plastic based fibers. It really never goes away.

For this kind of sportswear it varies from 20-200 years to break apart.


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