The research suggests that plastics have such a long-lasting impact on the planet's geology because they are inert and hard to degrade.

"Plastics are pretty well everywhere on Earth, from mountain tops to the deep ocean floor-and can be fossilised into the far future", said Jan Zalasiewicz, professor of palaeobiology from University of Leicester's department of geology.

"We now make almost a billion tonnes of the stuff every three years. If all the plastic made in the last few decades was clingfilm, there would be enough to put a layer around the whole Earth. With current trends of production, there will be the equivalent of several more such layers by mid-century", Zalasiewicz informed.

Plastics can travel thousands of miles, caught up in the 'great oceanic garbage patches', or eventually being washed up on distant beaches. Plastics can eventually sink to the sea floor, to become a part of the strata of the future.

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