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Single Use Plastics and the truth about balloons & supporting products

Balloons and balloon sticks have been included in the top 10 marine litter list for the new proposed Single Use Plastics directive. ​We have found no evidence in OSPAR or the European Environment Agency databases that balloons are in the TOP 10 products of their monitoring surveys.

As a fun loving product that brings endless joy and emotions to millions of people across the world, we feel it is unfair to the industry and wish to have our say and provide consumers with the real facts.

There are currently no alternatives to balloon sticks, in fact, they help reduce littering since a stick can be used to handle air filled balloons. It would be impossible to handle air filled balloons on a string, so it not only reduces the use of balloon gas, it also stops the balloon from floating away even if it is filled with balloon gas due to the weight. It makes it easier for children to handle balloons safely without a string.

The European Commission are proposing a ban on balloon sticks despite being number 36 in only one source of litter data - EEA. Explore more data options below and decide for yourself.

OSPAR Data shows that balloons are NOT in the top 10 litter list.

Original survey data can be found here.

PRESS RELEASE: 5 June 2018

The EBPC – the largest industry association for balloon and party products in Europe – has written to the European Commission and today issued an infographic to correct misleading claims in the Commission’s new campaign against marine litter which threaten to severely damage the balloon and party industry.

The Commission had claimed in campaign materials – including fact sheets and on the official Twitter account of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment – that balloons and balloon sticks were among the “10 most common plastic objects found on European beaches”. 

This is not the case according to the most authoritative data. Research from the OSPAR Commission – the organisation through which 15 Governments and the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment – has recorded that of the total number of plastic items found on European beaches between 2010 and 2016, balloons represented just 1% and balloon sticks 0%.

To help clarify the issue, the EBPC has therefore today issued an infographic which shows what the top 10 most common plastics found on European beaches actually are, as recorded by OSPAR Commission data.  Neither balloons nor balloon sticks feature.

The EBPC has also written to the European Commission asking that they cease including mentions of balloons and balloon sticks in their campaign materials.

Correcting the European Commission’s inaccurate claims matters greatly as the Commission’s recent draft Single Use Plastic Directive is proposing to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches.

If balloons and balloon sticks were wrongly caught up in new regulation, it would be devastating for the industry and jobs without tangible environmental gain.

As a major driver of the SME sector employing an estimated 15, 000 people in manufacturing alone, the balloon industry contributes more than €150 million in annual taxes for Governments across Europe in VAT, not including environmental or corporate taxes.

EBPC Operations Manager, Suteesh Chumber, said:

“The OSPAR database for Europe holds the most comprehensive marine litter classification information in the world. Analysis of the OSPAR figures shows balloons and balloon sticks are not in the top 10 lists at all amongst plastic and rubber items, and they in fact rank 36th (0.39%) in position in European Environment Agency data from 2013 – 2018.

“We call on the European Commission to recognise these facts and to ensure that the Single Use Plastic Directive does not end up destroying jobs through unnecessary regulations which will in turn deprive millions of Europeans of joy and celebration without tangible environmental gain.”

4th June 2018.

Further statistics with NO mention of balloons or balloon sticks

Top marine litter items on the beach - NO balloons or balloon sticks found. Explore the data by clicking here

Top 10 beach marine litter items found in Europe - NO balloons or balloon sticks. Explore the data by clicking here

Economic Impact

The European Commission have undertaken NO impact assessment for the balloon and party industry. We have surveyed our members to better understand the impact of the proposed SUP and simplified them into this infographic.