Balloons & the Environment

Are latex balloons biodegradable?

Latex is a 100-percent natural substance that breaks down both in sunlight and water. The first stage begins almost immediately. Oxidation, the “frosting” that makes latex balloons look as if they are losing their color. Exposure to sunlight, heat or normal outdoor conditions quickens the process.
Research shows that under similar environmental conditions, latex balloons will biodegrade at about the same rate as a leaf from an oak tree. The actual total degradation time will vary depending on the precise conditions.

Where does the latex balloons come from?

Latex balloons are made from the sap off the rubber tree,Hevea brasilliensis.
The rubber tree originated in the tropical forests of South America and was taken to Europe from Brazil. It is now grown on plantations in many tropical countries. The latex is collected in buckets, as it drips from harmless cuts in the bark. The process is much like that used to collect maple syrup. The use of latex balloons and other products, such as surgical gloves, make rubber trees economically valuable, which discourages people from cutting them down.

However,here at Balloon World i would encourages you to dispose of balloons, like all products, properly. I support putting weights on all helium-filled balloons to keep them from floating away accidentally and ask customers to put deflated balloons in the proper receptacles.

What is the impact on the environment when releasing balloons?

NABAS, the UK’s Balloon Trade Association, is very aware of its responsibilities to the environment and has issued a Code of Conduct for balloon releases.

On release a balloon will float up to a height of approximately 5 miles and then it becomes brittle and shatters, the small pieces being distributed over a wide area. Only natural latex rubber balloons and biodegradable components must be used in balloon releases. Balloons must be hand tied; plastic valves should not be used and any attached labels must be paper, preferably recycled.

To see full guidelines on a balloon release please click here.

Full Health & Safety guidelines with regards to balloons can be downloaded here.