NT bans helium balloons in Australian first

Thanks to the tireless efforts and lobbying from conservation partners, community organisations and the general public, 7 out of 8 Australian states and territories have now pledged to end single-use plastics. The types of plastics vary slightly from jurisdictions, but any step to remove millions of plastic items from ending up in either landfill or our oceans is a step in the right direction.

Image credit: Suzette Warnes

Most recently the Northern Territory joined the list, releasing their NT Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2027 in which it outlines its commitment to ban single-use plastics by 2025.

The most exciting addition to the NT’s waste reduction strategy includes a ban on helium balloons. The Northern Territory will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to bring in this ban.

According to the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, balloons are the biggest killer of Australian seabirds and one of the most lethal types of debris for marine animals.

Helium balloons are particularly dangerous because they have the ability to go further from shore when filled with gas. The damage they can cause as a true marine debris item to whales, dolphins, turtles and fish is immense. Banning helium balloons is a true source reduction option- it removes the risk or source of accidental and deliberate release of a potentially fatal debris item.

Balloons of any kind are a persistent risk to wildlife. There are so many options available to use as a substitute during celebrations or memorials that are sustainable and effective at marking a special occasion with loved ones. Tangaroa Blue Foundation will continue to support the lobbying efforts of our AMDI partner organisation No Balloon Release Australia in their efforts to create further awareness and action regarding the sale and release of balloons and helium balloons.

Image credit: Sharyn Morris

It is our hope that more states across Australia will follow the Northern Territory’s lead in this landmark ban. Although 2025 seems a long time away, we applaud the Northern Territory Government for taking steps to reduce the damage caused by single-use plastics and helium balloons.

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