Rules on Helium Balloons in Australia: Environmental Friendly Alternatives

Rules on Helium Balloons in Australia: Environmental Friendly Alternatives

Helium balloons floating majestically skyward create a beautiful visual at funerals and memorials, but the tribute is causing significant harm to our environment. Releasing helium balloons is now banned in Victoria, and the unlawful act can carry a hefty fine of up to $45,000.

Is it illegal to release helium balloons in Victoria?

In Victoria, releasing balloons became illegal from 1 July 2021, under the Environment Protection Act (2017). Under the revised law, any person caught releasing a helium balloon could be fined up to $540; or up to $9,000 for a series of balloon releases. The penalty is even more severe for companies (like funeral homes), which could face fines of up to $45,000 for balloon releases.

Why is helium balloon-releasing harmful to the environment?

Once helium-filled balloons disappear skyward they eventually come back down to earth as litter, causing significant harm to the environment and wildlife, particularly sea animals. Released balloons can end up hundreds of kilometres from where they were released. Despite misleading labelling claiming some balloons are biodegradable, they do not degrade and often end up as litter in the ocean.

Balloons are the deadliest form of litter when ingested by seabirds, according to the CSIRO. Marine mammals, sea birds, and turtles commonly mistake floating balloons for food like jellyfish or squid, leading to a slow and painful death through starvation.

Is it illegal to release helium balloons in other states?

Environmental protection laws regarding balloon releases currently differ in each Australian state and territory.

  • In New South Wales, it is an offence to release 20 or more helium balloons at once, with a greater penalty for releasing over 100 balloons.
  • In Queensland, releasing balloons is considered littering.
  • In Western Australia, balloon releasing isn’t explicitly illegal, however when the deflated balloon lands, it is considered litter.

Some local councils have banned balloon releases in their areas, and more changes to legislation and bylaws may come into effect due to the environmental concerns surrounding balloon releases.

What are some helium balloon alternatives?

Instead of releasing balloons at a funeral or memorial, consider alternatives like:

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing special music
  • Releasing butterflies
  • Hanging paper lanterns or pom-poms
  • Planting a memorial tree
  • Lighting candles

The team at Funera Sydney can provide guidance on planning an eco-friendly and meaningful memorial service. Contact us to discuss the options.

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