Something we all have a say in is the environment and our future. One thing that I get asked with regard balloon release is the impact on the environment and wildlife, the following is exerts from various reports. I also am in involved and follow codes of practice from BAPIA
The Green Balloon Campaign
Latex balloons are produced from the sap of the rubber tree. It is collected without harming the tree by using an environmentally safe, age-old process similar to that used for collecting the sap from maple trees for syrup. Because of rubber's versatility and demand, these tropical rain forest trees are very valuable, highly coveted - and well-protected natural resources. These precious trees play an equally valuable ecological role in the earth's fragile ecological balance by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which helps prevent global warming.
A latex balloon is made from 100 percent organic material and it's 100 percent biodegradable. Stress caused by inflation starts the decomposition cycle. Exposure to sunlight accelerates the process - oxygen and ozone continue the molecular attack even in the dark. Deterioration is clearly evident within a few hours - it begins to oxidise or "frost" - and soon the balloon will break apart. Research has shown that under similar conditions latex decomposes as quickly as an oak leaf.
In the latter half of the 1980's the public's awareness of mankind's harm to the environment was dramatically heightened by a number of ecologically significant events. These included major oil spills from tankers, evidence of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels, plastic and other non-biodegradable garbage washing ashore and causing the closing of public beaches, publicity about depletion of the ozone layer which screens the earth from harmful levels of ultra-violet radiation from the sun, and so on.
A natural and worthwhile reaction to these and similar events has been that concerned citizens and lawmakers have begun to propose and enact legislation with the aim of protecting the environment and wildlife from the harmful activities of man. One small but symbolic effort along these lines has been legislation by some communities to restrict or ban the popular activity of "balloon releases" where hundreds or even thousands of helium filled balloons are released into the air to celebrate or publicize some occasion. This concern is based on the assumption that when these balloons come down they will become litter and/or cause harm to wildlife which may ingest them. Many people feel that balloon releases are an example of a "throw away" society where man wantonly discards plastics and non-biodegradable items which are ruining the environment.
On the other side of this issue are the many people who earn their livelihood from balloon releases and related activities. These include balloon manufacturers, helium suppliers, balloon wholesalers and retailers, and their employees. Most of the commercial balloon releases are arranged by small, family run businesses which make a living through balloon releases and through balloon deliveries and decorating. Balloon releases do much good through publicizing many worthwhile causes and helping to raise funds for charities and other non-profit groups. These balloon releases have proven to be valuable to commerce by virtue of their high visual impact in advertising.
This is a very emotionally charged issue, and in some cases legislation is being passed in great haste with almost no investigation into the facts involved. This report has been prepared to provide legislators and others with relevant facts and with the scientific evidence concerning this issue. Many of those in the balloon business share the same concerns for the environment and for wildlife as those who are proposing the legislation. However, they want laws on this subject to be written with a sound basis in fact. They do not want to be deprived of their livelihood in a symbolic gesture which does not have any real and commensurate benefit to the environment.
BAPIA is the Balloon And Party Industry Alliance and they have established a code of practice for balloon releases.
BAPIA and it's members are very aware of their responsibility to the environment and as such we are keen to ensure that any impact made on the environment is kept to a minimum whilst still allowing our customers to enjoy the many benefits of balloons and other party products. It must also be remembered that latex balloons are made from 100% natural latex and as such are fully recyclable and indeed the trees supplying the latex are a vital source of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere which we need to survive.
Code of Practice.
BAPIA takes its responsibilities in terms of both public safety and environmental issues seriously. To this end we have put together a formal code of practice for members and those individuals and organisations using balloons.
This code of practice has been compiled using the experiences of the industry and the feedback of environmental groups gathered over many years. Along with the requirements of the UK Civil Aviation Authority the following provides a comprehensive and responsible code of practice for the industry.
•· Only latex balloons should be used in balloon releases
•· Metallic foil balloons (sometimes referred to as Mylar) should never be released or used in a balloon release
•· Latex balloons with a metallic pigment should never be used in a balloon release
•· Only 12" (30cm) or smaller balloons should be used in a balloon release
•· Only Helium (He) should be used to inflate the balloons
•· Balloons should be fully inflated to ensure that they will float to optimum altitude and burst into small pieces improving the decomposition time
•· Only biodegradable products should be attached to the balloons
•· No ribbons or strings should be attached to the balloons
•· Balloons should be hand tied and no valves, plugs or other devices should be used to seal the balloons.
•· Balloons must not be tied together they must always be released in singles
•· Where the balloons are restrained before release the restraining medium must be attached to the ground or a fixed structure to prevent any inadvertent release of the restraining medium with the balloons.
•· All relevant authorities must be informed in accordance with CAA and local regulations.
•· All helium filled foil balloons should be attached to a suitable weight to ensure that they are not released into the environment
•· All helium filled foil balloons in a bouquet or arrangement should be individually tied to a weight
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