Trash along the Anacostia River in Washington in 2009. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

With the new ban on District restaurants’ use of polystyrene plastics, the Anacostia River will look better, and we will suffer less air pollution from the incineration of this kind of trash. But this kind of plastic is still in use for other purposes.

 It’s hard to find ways to recycle many forms of plastic. Banning take-out foam plastic is a fantastic step, but there are many more plastics that are troubling in addition to the foam clamshells and cups. Many plastics harm us, harm wildlife and pollute the river, and they should be recycled or banned.

I hate to witness plastics of any kind being thrown away because in the District that means they will be incinerated.  Plastics, when burned, emit dioxins, which cause cancer. Residents and visitors should know that throwing plastic into the trash results in a plume of toxic smoke they may inhale later.

We don’t have adequate recycling by far. The District captures less than a third of what it should be able to recycle; that means that more than two-thirds of all recyclables end up as trash. And in the District, that trash is burned into a sticky, black, powdery haze. 

Donald W. Stephenson, Washington