The U.N. Environment Program, at a meeting in Hawaii on the need for a greener economy, said marine debris remains problematic despite efforts to reduce industrial plastic waste.
"Marine debris -- trash in our oceans -- is a symptom of our throw-away society and our approach to how we use our natural resources," said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, in a statement.
Steiner said a legacy of carefree attitudes on the need to coordinate regional and global programs have aggravated the problems tied to marine debris.
Government and corporate leaders, however, agreed at a Hawaii conference to share technical, legal and market-based solutions to reduce marine debris, he said.
"The impact of marine debris today on flora and fauna in the oceans is one that we must now address with greater speed," added Steiner.
Tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in large pools because of circulating ocean currents. Many of the concentrated plastic deposits contain harmful chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls and the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.