Marine Conservation Society calls for ban on release of sky lanterns and balloons after 50 per cent increase in beach litter

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 24 March 2017 in News

MCS ‘Great British Beach Clean’ found a 53.5 per cent increase in balloon litter on UK beaches

Beach - by Garann

The Marine Conservation Society has called for a ban on the release of sky lanterns and balloons after reporting a 50 per cent increase in the amount of balloon litter found on UK beaches between 2015 and 2016.

With the MCS ‘Great British Beach Clean’ showing a 53.5 per cent increase in balloon litter on UK beaches, the charity has launched a campaign to persuade councils to ban the release of both balloons and sky lanterns on their land.

Latex balloons are biodegradable but the charity warned they may still persist in the marine environment for up to four years.


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Currently over 50 UK local authorities have agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.

Emma Cunningham is the MCS Pollution Campaigns Officer: “There’s an awful lot of confusion over balloons, especially what they’re made of and how they break down. Some people believe that because latex is natural, balloons made of it are harmless once let go. This just isn’t the case. Latex may last for up to four years in the marine environment.

“The latest research also shows that only around 13 per cent of balloons burst into small pieces whilst more than 80 per cent come down intact. This could explain the rise in balloon litter levels we have seen on beaches, which will have a great impact on wildlife.”

The ‘Don’t Let Go’ campaign aims to encourage other councils to follow Aberdeen city, Angus, Shetland and Perth and Kinross local authorities in agreeing to a voluntary ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.

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