Friday, 19 April 2013 - 08:57
What should have been a climax has instead resulted in reputational damage for the balloons sector, according to Pim Santhuizen of the Ballonnerie in Amsterdam, which was the supplier of the 150,000 balloons that were planned to be released at the end of the Koningsvaart on April 30. Amsterdam had decided to release 150,000 orange balloons at the end of the Koningsvaart. The municipality had already taken into account the arguments of environmental organizations such Natuurmonumenten, Staatsbosbeheer, Dierenbescherming, Greenpeace, Milieudefensie and Vogelbescherming in their decision. Thus, the planned 150,000 balloons would have no ribbons that would cause birds to choke, and no labels, bow ties or other stuffs that could be mistaken for worms. “We have chosen hundred percent biodegradable balloons. You can't get more environmentally friendly than that,” said the spokesman of the mayor, Bartho Boer. Nevertheless, the environmental organizations called for the people to boycott the balloons. “Many people have shown their concerns over the internet and through social media and Mayor van der Laan received hundreds of emails,” reported the municipality. “Van der Laan has taken this seriously and has canceled the balloons.” Boer says, “We have no containers standing here with balloons. We are not yet so far in the procurement process. We are now looking, together with the suppliers, into the costs of canceling the order.” “It's a pity that the municipality avoided any discussion,” says Pim Santhuizen, owner of the Ballonnerie in Amsterdam. Environmental organizations and the Party for the Animals thought it was a ridiculous plan to release so much latex in the air. Santhuizen thinks whether it was such a ridiculous plan is still a question. He has read a report in which the dangers of these balloons are put into perspective. “But it remains difficult. You cannot test on animals. Well, there is a case of a turtle who had eaten a balloon which came out the natural way,” says Santhuizen. The environmental movement also gets support from within the balloons business. Jeroen Spaink of the Ballonnenwinkel found the number of 150,000 extremely high. "Certainly, if you know what it costs. The municipality loses in two or three minutes 100,000 euro." He thinks that such numbers of balloons may also put stress on nature. “I have no problems with the opening of a school whereby 150 balloons are released into the air, but this is too much." There will be no alternative for the balloons because there is still too much light at that time to use fireworks.