Consumer Trends Self-Regulation Waste Management

Release of Plastic Balloons at Sea is Littering

Campaigners claim that biodegradable plastic balloons blown away at sea are not biodegrading and are causing harm to seabirds, seals and other wildlife.

 Balloons are being released for memorial purposes, weddings and commercial launches on cruiseships.

Campaigners claim that the balloons take years to biodegrade and that dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds and other animals have been killed by balloons. Animals swallow the balloons or become entangled in the strings. Turtles mistake balloons for jellyfishes

The biodegradation process is delayed because of the cold and oxygen-poor conditions of the sea.

Campaigners propose to classify balloon releases as littering.


  • This is a good example where industry self-regulation would be more efficient than regulations. It would take years for countries to adopt legislation on this topic while it could be implemented within weeks by the cruise line companies.