Celebrate Better is a campaign that aims to create awareness about the issue of litter from balloon releases and the use of plastic confetti. If used irresponsibly during celebrations or events, these items become litter and eventually turn into a source of marine pollution.
Many less impactful alternatives to celebrate without balloons or plastic confetti exist. Producers should consider the circular design of party products, enabling them to be reused or easily recycled.
Join us in spreading awareness about this issue and promoting ways to celebrate responsibly without harming our precious marine environment!
All campaign materials are free to use and distribute. The videos and social media cards are available in six languages: Danish, English, Estonian, Finnish, German and Swedish. Suggestions for social media messages are also provided (in English only).
What’s the issue?
Mass balloon releases and confetti are sometimes used outdoors to celebrate special occasions. While they may look pretty, pieces of them often end up on beaches and in the sea, contributing to the marine litter problem and becoming a serious hazard to marine animals and birds.
Many balloon and confetti items are commonly sold through retail, specialty stores and internet stores. Helium balloons are carried long distances when released into the air. Littered materials enter the marine environment mainly via surface water runoff to waterways. Wind, waves and ocean currents transport the materials long distances. Their presence in the environment can cause harm to wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. Plastics used, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) release chemical substances and additives. The products are often single-use and made of materials that do not readily biodegrade.
Market restrictions in EU countries through the Single-Use Plastic Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/904) only regulate balloon sticks. Within the Directive, extended producer responsibility will require that the balloon industry creates awareness about balloon pollution and covers costs of cleaning litter.
To learn more about this issue, read HELCOM’s study The intentional release of balloons and confetti in the Baltic Sea Area.
What can be done?
Many people may not fully understand the impact of balloon releases and confetti throwing on the environment, so spreading awareness is important. Many less impactful alternatives to celebrate without balloons or plastic confetti exist. Sustainable alternatives to plastic confetti are available on the market and alternatives to balloon releases, such as balloon displays, create new economic opportunities for this industry.
HELCOM countries are aware of this issue and have considered it through actions RL12 and RL13 in the 2021 Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter. Other organizations, such as OSPAR and the Baltic Assembly, have also agreed on common approaches to address litter from activities that use single-use party items.
Producers should consider the circular design of party products, so that they can be reused or easily recycled. Product packaging could also clearly signal to consumers that consideration must be taken when using these products. Restrictions of the use of plastic confetti for large gatherings such as concerts and street parties need to be considered.
About the campaign
Celebrate Better-campaign was created as part of HELCOM’s Balloons-project, which was implemented by KIMO International thanks to the support of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The project aimed to assess the prevalence of intentional balloon and outdoor confetti releases within the HELCOM countries and the impact this had on the environment and marine ecosystems. The project’s broader objective was to formulate guidance on strategies to gradually eliminate intentional balloon releases and propose measures to address confetti-related concerns.
The project addresses actions RL13 and RL 14 (partially) of the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter concerning the phasing out of intentional release of inflated balloons and the confetti released outdoors.
Associate Professional Secretary, HELCOM
+358 40 647 2424