Banning balloon releases? Up, up, away and a $500 fine, please
ASBURY PARK — This Monmouth County city could become the latest along the Jersey Shore to ban the intentional release of balloons into the air — noting the practice is a threat to the environment and wildlife.
An ordinance introduced by the city council in August, and to be voted on in September, would impose a fine of up to $500 on any person or entity responsible for the intentional release of balloons within the city's limits.
"Balloons continue to be a source of litter on New Jersey’s beaches as well as a real threat to wildlife, especially at the Jersey Shore," said Surfrider Foundation's Jersey Shore chapter in a news release. "Balloons and their attachments also contribute to the growing issue of marine plastic pollution."
According to Surfrider, 14 other New Jersey municipalities have a similar ban on the books, including Atlantic City, Bradley Beach and Long Beach Township.
Asbury Park's proposal makes exceptions for balloon releases related to scientific or meteorological purposes.
Lorna O'Hara, executive director of The Balloon Council, based in Trenton, said protecting the environment is an idea everyone supports. But instead of bans, the Council would like to see the implementation of education programs related to balloon releases.
"The industry supports weighting balloons and them not being released; we're discouraging that," O'Hara said. "What they don't want to see is negative words surrounding balloon bans, and then they're not used for other occasions."
The Council's "Smart Balloon Practices" campaign advises consumers to keep their balloons secured to a weight, and not to release foil balloons into the air.
O'Hara claims latex balloons are biodegradable, but Surfrider doesn't agree.
"I would simply dispute that by saying we don't label any other latex product you can buy in the store as biodegradable — latex gloves, condoms," said John Weber, the Foundation's Mid-Atlantic regional manager.