Aussie council brings in controversial party ban at tourist hotspot

The decision has been made in the hope it safeguards local wildlife.

A party at a beach with balloons (left) and two women sitting at the beach (right).
Byron Shire council will become the first council to ban balloons in Australia. Source: Getty

One popular party decoration which is often the backdrop of Aussie celebrations will soon be banned in one council area — with authorities believing it's the best and simplest step to safeguarding wildlife and the environment.

NSW's Byron Shire council confirmed with Yahoo News it will become the first council in Australia to ban balloons, with no type or material tolerated by authorities. Not only balloons but all single-use party decorations will be a big no-no in the area, meaning plastic disks, ribbons and strings often attached to balloons, as well as glitter, confetti, tinsel and party poppers, will be banned.

Even biodegradable balloons will not be permitted, with the council pointing to studies which reveal these 'environmentally friendly' decorations don't show any signs of degradation or breakdown after 16 weeks of use.

"The ban will impact those organising events of all shapes and sizes in our halls, buildings and parks but we will be working closely with individuals and groups to make the switch to reusable alternatives," Mayor Michael Lyon said. "Many local events and venues have already taken the step to eliminate some of these items, and this is just the next phase of Byron leading the way."

Reads 'What on Earth? Our rapid growth in plastic use means there are an estimated 171 trillion pieces in the ocean.' with a collage of plastic floating in water and a fish made out of rubbish.
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Balloons are the "biggest killers of Australian sea birds" and the decorations can often be lethal to other animals if they are ingested or if the animal becomes tangled in them.

"When balloons fly away birds can get caught in the strings which will entangle them and make it difficult for them to fly, or get to the surface for air if they're in the water," Shane Cucow from the Australian Marine Conservation Society told Yahoo News previously.

Balloons tangled up in a tree (left) and two balloons which resemble jelly fish (right).
Balloons are easily ingested by wildlife as they mistake them as a food source. Source: Native ARC Inc and Rubber Jellyfish

In August last year, Byron Bay local Jan Brady told Yahoo News she had spent many weekends picking up tiny pieces of balloons after partygoers failed to clean up after themselves, concerned what impact the plastic would have on wildlife if left in the park. She is one of many who have been pushing for a ban, with some eager for the Australian Government to ban the decorations nationwide.

Byron Shire council is encouraging partygoers to instead turn to reusable decorations, such as bunting, fairy lights or leaf and flower confetti.

"While council can issue fines, the approach will be on education. That is educating people as to the environmental harm that can occur from balloons and decorations and promoting alternatives that are available," a Byron Shire council spokesperson told Yahoo News. "We don’t want to be the fun police... [but] taking measures to reduce our waste is a crucial step in reducing our environmental footprint and keeping our Shire clean and healthy."

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