Industry has made more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic since 1950 and enough is left over to bury Manhattan under more than 3km of rubbish, according to a global study.

Plastics do not break down like other man-made materials so three-quarters of the stuff ends up as waste in landfills, littered on land and floating in oceans, lakes and rivers, according to the research reported in journal Science Advances. “At the current rate, we are really heading toward a plastic…