According to Green Living Tips and the Pocket Guide to Marine Debris, newspaper takes six weeks to break down in a natural environment. Generally, it takes longer to decompose in a landfill because of preservatives and the decrease in sunlight, free oxygen and microbes. Newspaper decomposes faster when wet.
Paper towels and fruit have similar decomposition times to newspaper, and some materials, such as Styrofoam and tin foil, never decompose. Aluminum cans, plastic bottles, disposable diapers, fishing lines and batteries take centuries to biodegrade, and glass bottles take millions of years. Recycling newspaper, as well as other items, saves energy and landfill space.