By Casey Tolan
- Published on June 24, 2014 by CNN
(CNN) -- A series of new reports are raising concerns about the damage plastic waste is doing to oceans -- harming marine animals, destroying sensitive ecosystems, and contaminating the fish we eat.
But experts say that the solution to the problem isn't in the ocean -- it's on land.
The United Nations Environment Programme, as well as the NGOs Global Ocean Commission and Plastic Disclosure Project, released reports on Monday ringing the alarm bell about the environmental impact of debris on marine life.
Plastic waste in oceans is causing $13 billion of damage each year, according to the UNEP report, and that figure could be much higher. Worldwide plastic production is projected to reach 33 billion tons by 2050, and plastic makes up 80% of litter on oceans and shorelines.
"Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release.