Are balloons made of plastic?
Balloons are not plastic, they are made from an entirely natural resource called rubber latex which is scientifically recognised as biodegradable. As the global community works to reduce plastic waste, balloons are often included in the debate despite the fact they do not qualify as plastic at all. Here at Gemar we take great care to responsibly source the materials we use to manufacture high quality, ethical products.
Are balloons a commonly littered product?
The facts reported by DEFRA after a study of UK beach litter stated that only 0.5% of the litter were discarded balloons. Although we support continued education and intervention to reduce this further, it is important to keep the impact of balloon litter in perspective with other items more commonly littered such as fast food packaging and plastic drink bottles.
Are balloon releases dangerous for the environment?
We do not encourage the use of balloons for release. Instead we always recommend a policy of ‘pop it and bin it’ to ensure the safe and responsible disposal of every balloon. However it is also important to recognise that the danger caused to wildlife from fallen balloons is not as prevalent as some report.
Based on factual evidence, DEFRA (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK), conducted research in 2011 and could only attribute 6 deaths of wildlife where balloons were definately responsible. The research looked back as far as 1885. These low levels are due to the way the balloon responds when in the atmosphere, the latex actually shatters and the small fragments that return to earth biodegrade in roughly the same time as an oak leaf.
Is the balloon industry contributing to the shortage of helium?
There is a helium shortage but the balloon industry is not responsible for it. Helium in its purest form is used as a coolant in medical equipment such as MRI machines and in cancer treatment. Helium is also used is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and superconducting magnets (among other things).
The value and limited availability of pure helium has led some people to argue that using it in something so ‘frivolous’ as balloons is a waste. What is important to understand here is that balloon gas is a completely different product than the helium used in medical equipment. It has a lower concentration of helium (less than 98%) and is not classified as a high enough grade to be used for other functions. Furthermore balloon gas is a by-product that mixes with air when cylinders are filled. If it was not sold to the balloon industry it would go to waste.