Ballina’s balloon ban in favor of wildlife – The Echo

Seabirds strangled by wads of balloons, ribbons and string. Photo

Balloons are to be banned outdoors in Ballina County from next year after a unanimous council vote on Thursday morning.

Greens councilor Kiri Dicker raised the motion, citing environmental concerns.

Ballina Shire Greens Councilor Kiri Dicker PIC: Supplied.

‘Balloons are questionable [sic] one of the most damaging types of single-use plastics,” Cr Dicker wrote in the notes to his motion, “that’s because they can travel long distances by air and end up on our beaches and our Waterways “.

Wildlife have often mistaken popped balloons for food, wrote Cr Dicker, highlighting dolphins, fish, turtles and seabirds.

Australia’s managing director of Northern Rivers Seabirds and Rescue, Olly Bird, backed the adviser’s case.

Burst the bubble on biodegradable balloons

A ban on single-use plastics began to take effect in New South Wales this month, starting with packaging.

Many other single-use plastic items are set to be banned statewide later this year, but the list so far excludes balloons.

Many balloon manufacturers have claimed their products are “100% biodegradable,” Cr Dicker wrote in his supporting comments, but a 2020 University of Tasmania study had found the assertion false.

“After 16 weeks in freshwater, saltwater and industrial compost conditions, latex balloons have not degraded,” read Cr Dicker’s comments.

another australian study found balloons and other soft plastic waste 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than hard plastic waste.

Cr Dicker said NSW was the only state in Australia where the release of up to 20 helium balloons was still legal.

NSW Government failing to act on balloon pollution

Ballina Shire council decided to write to relevant state and federal ministers two years ago about the balloons, the first councilor said.

The council is said to have called for a review of the regulations on the sale and use of helium, particularly with regard to balloons; for the government to educate the community about the harms of helium balloon releases; and a ban on the use of gas-filled balloons on government-controlled land.

But Cr Dicker said the demands did not result in a change in state policy.

“As owners and managers of public land, local councils are well placed to implement localized restrictions on ballooning,” wrote Cr Dicker, adding that many councils across the country had already introduced balloon restrictions. similar restrictions.

Cr Dicker said a lot of public land in the Ballina Shire was located next to rivers, oceans and waterways.

“As a coastal community committed to sustainability, the Ballina Shire Council must be a leader in protecting our seabirds and marine life,” said the Greens member.

Balloons still allowed at children’s parties

The progressive adviser seemed keen not to be a proverbial ‘party animal’, making it clear that the bans only apply to larger events such as weddings and markets.

The ban would not affect small, informal gatherings such as birthday parties, Cr Dicker wrote, and the bans would not necessarily require enforcement.

The Greens adviser instead suggested focusing on targeted education and awareness campaigns.

Cr Dicker’s proposal won the unanimous backing of his fellow councilors meaning the release of helium balloons onto public land in the Ballina Shire must be banned with immediate effect.

Speaking briefly to echo during a break in the meeting, fellow Greens adviser Simon Chate said the balloon ban was important to mitigate ever-growing threats to biodiversity.

The use or supply of all types of balloons, when all or part of the event takes place outdoors, is prohibited from January 1, 2023.

The advisers also agreed to write to NSW and federal environment ministers outlining Ballina’s balloon ban.