Consumers in Victoria, Australia can now expect a hefty fine if they release balloons into the air. The government has been working at introducing legislation that penalises people who essentially throw away plastic pollution. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has now been given increased powers that came into force at the start of July.
Individuals who release a single helium balloon can now expect a fine of $991 and companies caught releasing balloons will see a fine of $4,959. If caught releasing a series of balloons, the penalty shoots up to $16,522 for individuals and $82,610 for businesses and corporate events.
The EPA wrote about their expanded powers: “Wildlife can be seriously harmed or killed by balloons and their attachments. They can become entangled or ingest balloon litter.
“Balloons floating in the water can look like squid or jellyfish. Marine mammals, sea birds and turtles often mistake them for food.
“In Victoria, seals and other animals have been known to become entangled in balloon ribbons which can cause lasting damage.”
The EPA does allow for people to fly balloons outside as long as they’re properly tethered. You would also have to prove to the EPA that the flying of the balloons outside was ‘unavoidable’.
The ban has been celebrated by Wildlife Victoria, who tweeted: “This week marks a wildlife win with it now being illegal to release balloons into the environment. This new law will help save countless lives and protect our wildlife.”
Balloons have been listed as one of the most harmful forms of pollution for marine creatures as many mistake them for food. It clogs their insides and they eventually starve or choke to death.