Melbourne's Darebin council votes for balloon ban
Balloons, disposable food containers and cups are being banned at events held on council property in part of Melbourne's north.
The City of Darebin, which includes the suburbs of Preston, Northcote and Thornbury, voted unanimously to ban the items from being used or sold on council land.
Greens councillor Trent McCarthy said the policy demonstrated leadership on the environmental issues concerning the community.
"It's important that when we ask people to not leave plastics around in our public spaces, that we're also doing everything we can to reduce the use of those single-use plastics ourselves," Cr McCarthy said.
"So I think this is what our community's been calling for a long time."
The ban will be phased in over two years, and the council will provide exemptions at events where disposable plastic is unavoidable for health and safety reasons.
Darebin's nine councillors include four Greens, three independents and two backed by Labor.
Ban will hurt family businesses: industry
The ban has prompted criticism from Victoria's balloon industry, which argued latex balloons should not be part of a policy on the use of disposable plastic.
Balloon Artists and Suppliers Association president Ray Stewart said the trend of local councils banning balloon releases and balloons altogether was putting thousands of jobs at risk.
"I know that councils all across the country have had a lot of activism on their shoulders at the moment regarding balloons from small environmental groups," Mr Stewart said.
"To push balloons in with their plastic bans … it's just dishonest, it doesn't give the issue of latex balloons the attention it deserves."
Mr Stewart said there was a flow-on effect from any ban which sends a message to the community.
"Surely it's worth looking into because the impacts that a full ban has on so many members of our community — mum-and-dad businesses who provide for their families through the sale of these balloons," he said.
Cr McCarthy said the ban was not "just about balloons" but a broader commitment to eliminating single-use plastics from council operations.
"Obviously there is enough evidence of balloons getting caught up in rivers and creeks and being found in various wildlife as well," he said.