Balloons: what goes up, must come down – and it’s often a killer

04 January 2018

Everyone enjoys a birthday party at the park or celebrating special occasions with balloons, but few people know just how much of a threat balloon litter is to our precious environment.

Contrary to popular belief, balloons are not biodegradable and remain in our environment for years afterwards, slowly breaking down into smaller pieces of latex that pollute our waterways and threaten wildlife.  

Balloons and balloon fragments are just as deadly and damaging as plastic bags. Wildlife often mistake balloon litter as food, and land and marine animals who ingest the plastic can be seriously injured or even killed.

Balloons have been found hundreds of kilometres away from the place of release, potentially polluting even the most pristine and isolated environments. Even worse, popular helium balloons have been known to travel up to 800 km before the helium releases and the latex litter falls to earth.

To see the effects of balloon litter on our environment, you can watch Zoos Victoria’s video on the plight facing seabirds on Horne Island.


Under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, releasing balloons is considered an illegal act of littering. Regardless of whether the release was deliberate or an accident, the act is punishable by a fine.

Next time you consider releasing a balloon into the sky, ditch the plastic and consider environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Flags, banners, ribbons, kites, garden spinners, bunting, tissue paper pom poms, candles, bubbles or origami are fun ways to add colour to a special occasion and they are safe for the environment.

Read more about balloon litter on the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website here.