How long does it takes a banana peel to decompose in landfill? | 2 Years

Banana peel that ends up in regular landfill with other waste products including plastic can take up to 2 years to break down. Banana peels need the right temperature and combination of bacteria, fungi and oxygen to break down organically. Banana peels that are covered with garbage will break down anaerobically releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Methane is a substance that adds to the ozone layer, capturing sunlight and heat in the earth. This causes the earth to heat up quicker. While one banana peel won’t make a lot of difference but millions of bananas thrown into landfill causes lots of methane to be release into the air and earth.

Banana peels are an organic material which can break down quickly in a compost pile or worm farm. Taking it to a local community garden, your school or your home compost is a much better way to deal with the waste instead of throwing it in landfill.

Why do banana peels take so long to break down in landfill?

Banana peel needs the right conditions to break down as fast as possible. Even though it is an organic material, landfill slows down the break down process meaning they can last in the pile for years. Here are the top reasons why.

1. Lack of oxygen

Many bacteria that break down the organic material need oxygen to live. The aerobic break down process of plant material is fast and happens when there is good access to air. Landfill is fill of inorganic material plastics which can starve the bacteria of air.

The pile can become compact and make it difficult for aerobic bacteria to live and break down the food.

2. Cold temperatures

Landfill is usually situated in an open land space, away from towns. These open areas are not protected and can drop in temperature rapidly over fall and winter. Cool temperatures slow down the activity of the bacteria which slows down the rate that the banana peel will break down.

3. Lack of contact with the soil

Banana peels will end up with all sorts of household garbage when put into a landfill. Old plastic bread bags, toys, furniture and other food waste can often end up all mixed in together. Garbage is piled on top of other garbage and will not always make contact with the soil. This means that the banana peel will not be able to access the natural soil bacteria who are so good at breaking food waste down.

Banana peel that is stuck in amongst plastic will take a long time to break down. They will lack oxygen and the natural balance of bacteria that exists will not always find their way there.

What banana peels need to decompose quickly

Here are the top conditions that banana peels need to break down fast. These conditions will help soil bacteria and worms to move in and break down the organic matter to usable particles for plants.

1. Oxygen

Oxygen is key for the fast break down of banana peels in a cold composting system. If you are putting your banana peels in a compost bin then adding brown materials that help to aerate the compost important. Mix through a 1:3 ratio of green materials like food scraps with brown like straw, hay or fall leaves.

Mix all of the ingredients together to allow aerobic soil bacteria to thrive and break down the banana peels.

2. Soil bacteria and worms

Creating an environment where soil bacteria and worms can thrive is essential for fast banana peel decomposition. Worm farms where large numbers of worms can live and thrive and one of the fastest ways to break down banana peels. A large colony of worms can break down 2-3 banana peels in a week.

Creating an environment that supports soil bacteria to thrive like in a compost bin will also help banana peels to break down quickly. It important to add a wide range of materials like old mulch, old hay, fall leaves, coffee grounds and food scraps to support bacteria growth. Keep the pile moist but not soggy and make sure there is lots of air movement.

3. Moisture

A good amount of water or moisture is important for helping any organic matter to break down, including banana peels. Peels that are thrown on the side of a walking trail or the road will take a long time to break down because they are exposed to the air and dry out.

Breaking down banana peels in a composting system or worm farm will keep the environment moist which helps soil bacteria to breed and break down the food.

4. High surface area

The more surface area there is on the banana skin, the quicker it will break down. While banana peels already have a high surface area, you can increase this to help it to break down quicker. Take your scissors and snip the banana peel into pieces around an inch long. Put the peel in a compost pile or worm bin and it will be gone quick.

Cut banana peels into small pieces to help them to break down quicker in compost bins.

5. Temperature

Banana peels will decompose faster in warmer temperatures. The perfect balance of warmth, air and water will help soil bacteria to break down the peels fast. Soil bacteria like temperatures that we like, so spring and mild summer weather are perfect.

Where to break down banana peels quickly

The best way to break down banana peels is to put them into compost or a worm farm. You can make your own compost at home or find an organic food waste bin. These are becoming more common in food courts and near canteens.

You can make your own worm farm at home for minimal cost, check out my article here: How to make a Styrofoam worm farm

Compost can be as simple as a well organized pile in the corner of your yard or you can use a fancy compost tumbler. Either way it is important to get the mix right of brown and green materials.

For more on how to compost, check out my easy guide here: Ways to Start Composting Kitchen Waste – A Beginners Guide

How long it takes for a banana peel to decompose in landfill | Summary

Banana peel can take 2 years or more to break down in landfill if it is trapped amongst other garbage. Plastics can trap the banana keeping it away from oxygen and soil bacteria slowing its break down process. The best way to break down banana peels is in compost bin or worm farm. If you can find an organic waste bin when you are out, then this is also a great place to put your peels.