Number of Dutch municipalities with balloon ban tripled in one year

The number of municipalities in the Netherlands that banned the release of balloons more than tripled over the past year, according to a study by De Noordzee foundation. The foundation is committed to getting such a ban implemented across the Netherlands, because the plastic in balloons is harmful to animals and the environment, NOS reports.

Last year only 5 percent of Dutch municipalities had a ban on releasing balloons. Now that's 17 percent. And another 20 percent of municipalities are actively discouraging the release of balloons, according to the foundation. "We hope that every municipality will ban the release of balloons next year. Let's ensure together that no more balloons end up in the sea", a spokesperson said to the broadcaster.

Bans on releasing balloons are particularly popular in the coastal municipalities and on the Wadden Islands. Four out of ten municipalities in Friesland and Noord-Holland implemented such a ban. In Limburg, only one municipality has such a ban in place. 

In the run-up to King's Day next month, De Noordzee foundation is organizing a campaign to get more municipalities on board with such a ban. The foundation is calling on organizers of King's Day festivities to opt for alternatives like flying kites or blowing bubbles, instead of releasing balloons. "Children suddenly find the release of balloons much less festive when they hear that animals see the balloons for food, get tangled in the ribbons and that plastic contributes to the plastic soup", the spokesperson said to NOS.

Amsterdam was the first Dutch municipality to ban the release of balloons in 2015. Dozens of other municipalities followed suit, including Rotterdam, The Hague,  Den Bosch and Zeist in the past few months.