What makes certain materials, like plastic, unable to be broken down?

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What makes certain materials, like plastic, unable to be broken down?

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It’s biology. What causes things to break down is some organism that digests them. Over millions of years organisms have evolved to break down trees and plants, but not rocks. That’s why if you leave a piece of wood in the ground it decomposes and if you leave a rock in the ground it does not.

Plastics haven’t been around for millions of years, so no natural organism has had time to evolve to digest them. There are experiments, and we might engineer such an organism, but that’s going to take a lot of work.