Town Bans Balloons

Published: Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 12:00:00 AM

The Town is concerned with the detrimental impact helium balloons have on the environment, particularly marine life and other animals.

The Town is also advocating for an amendment to the Litter Act 1979 to define the mass release of balloons in public areas to constitute an offence. Currently the Act defines items as litter when they are deposited on land or waters, making the action of releasing balloons not an offence until they land.

While previously seen as harmless, research indicates that balloons can have a detrimental   environmental impact.

Balloons are made from a biodegradable latex, which degrades on exposure to air. This can take up to 6 months, however if floating in seawater, can take up to 12 months. The balloons can cause serious harm to marine and bird life. Deflated balloons can be ingested by turtles, fish and dolphins. This can lead to stomach blockages and starvation, and in turtles, floating syndrome and vulnerability to propeller strikes. Birds can ingest the balloons and suffer serious health issues, and become entangled in the strings attached and die.

The intentional releasing of helium balloons into the atmosphere has been banned in jurisdictions including Plymouth City and Lancaster in the UK, Florida, California and Texas in the USA and New South Wales and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.

In NSW it is illegal to release 20 or more gas-inflated balloons and released balloons must not have any attachments, and the Sunshine Coast Council has banned the release of all helium balloons within the Local Government District.

In 2015, the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) produced a Helium Balloon Litter Background Paper.  The paper provided information on the impacts of releasing helium balloons into the environment and identified options for Local Governments who wish to minimize litter from balloons. The paper also contained information on various studies conducted by the CSIRO in Queensland in 2010 and 2012, and the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup which found 1.2 million balloons over 25 years were collected worldwide.


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