I always thought that paper decomposed in the ground. I never had qualms about putting paper in the bin, because it would quickly decompose, right?
Well, maybe not. this newspaper was excavated from Imberhorne tip in Sussex. It had been in the ground for maybe forty years, and was still perfectly readable. It is also interesting that when other parts of the tip (a former railway curtting used by the local council as a domestic refuse tip) were excavated, the plastic content was very visable even long after most organic matter had become a black clay-like substance.
Of course, the acid in the paper might have stopped it decomposing, as might an airless water saturated environment. It was still a surprise to see.