Queen Anne’s Considers Ban on Balloon Releases

Route Fifty article (2019-07-16) reported that the Queen Anne’s County Board of County Commissioners is considering legislation that would prohibit the intentional release of balloons that are not biodegradable or photodegradable. Traditional latex and mylar balloons and their tie ribbons do not break down in the environment and have been causing problems for both farmers and watermen.

From proposed County Ordinance 19-13:

It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to knowingly and intentionally release, organize the release of or intentionally cause to be released into the atmosphere of Queen Anne’s County any Balloon unless such Balloon is either biodegradable or photodegradable.

The proposed ordinance exempts balloons released on behalf of any government for scientific or meteorological purposes, hot air balloons, and the unintentional or negligent release of balloons. Violators are subject to a civil fine of up to $250.

According to the article, the ordinance was introduced by County Commissioner Chris Corchiarino after being approached Queen Anne’s Conservation Association Executive Director Jay Falstad after Falstad’s daughter discovered a balloon cluster that was released from Dayton, Ohio and Falstad began hearing complaints from the environmental community and watermen. From the article:

“We’re not trying to create a situation where some kid who lets go of their balloon at the carnival is jumped by the police,” Corchiarino said. “If you want to get balloons for your kid’s birthday party, or you’re getting married and want to have balloons on the chair, go ahead and do it. Just dispose of them responsibly when you’re done.” …

“[Balloon ribbons] are almost unbreakable, and you’ll find them tangled up with marine life and other animals. It ends being a slow death, because they can’t get out of it,” Falstad said. “Farmers also experience this, where balloons are out in their fields and their animals can get to it. It’s a choking hazard.”

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing on August 13.

Learn more about recycling and waste disposal challenges of products like polystyrene at the 2019 MACo Summer Conference. The panel “Reduce, Reuse…Now What?” will highlight national challenges facing the recycling industry, new regulations on recycling facilities, and the latest on food composting efforts in Maryland. The panel will take place on August 16, 2019, from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: