The problem with foam

So far in 2018, Anacostia Riverkeeper's Clean Waterways volunteers have removed "8,994 pounds of trash from the Anacostia River and shoreline" including 71 pounds of styrofoam.

APACC member Restore Shepherd Parkway explains more about the styrofoam trash problem and why it's so bad in Nathan Harrington's Foam Ban Blues in Ward 8, republished here:

Since January 1, 2016, it has been illegal in the District of Columbia to sell prepared food in a foam containers. The mayor and Council passed the ban at the urging of environmentalists because foam is bad news for the environment for many reasons.

Your coffee should always be served in a paper cup, and your chicken wings with mumbo sauce in a paper of plastic box. Paper and plastic are  recyclable, unlike Styrofoam. 

Two and a half years later, the DC Department of Energy an the Environment (DOEE) claims an 85% compliance, but what I've seen suggests that the rate in Ward 8 is much lower.

Foam  tends to be slightly cheaper and customers are used to it, so some business owners disregard the law. This foam ends up on our streets and in our streams, where is breaks down into millions of tiny pieces and poisons animals that eat them.

DOEE's enforcement strategy depends mostly on tips from citizens. Carryouts and food trucks are unlikely to be visited by inspectors unless a customer reports their use of foam to DOEE.

This is where you come in. Any time you are given a foam food container, or see someone else leaving a carryout food truck with one, report it to DOEE. Reports can also be made over the phone or online using 311.

Only with active citizen engagement will the foam ban fulfill its intended goal of a cleaner environment.