Balloons could go in bid to cut plastic use

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council is to consider dropping the use of balloons at council events.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 10:31 pm

The move has been proposed by officers in support of a Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB) ‘Plastic Promise’ initiative and as part of the borough council’s bid to reduce single-use plastics through its Climate Change Action Plan.

The local authority has already committed to reducing plastic beverage bottles, cutlery, food containers, takeaway cups, lollipop sticks, packets and wrappers but has not yet signed up to KNIB’s ‘Plastic Promise’.

The council supports the national refill campaign for water bottles and this may be extended to the provision of more water refill “fountains”.

KNIB has urged local authorities to ban balloon releases and not to permit their use at events saying that event licensing should “explicitly state this ban and those who ignore the ban should be subject to fines”.

“We encourage those organising events to seek alternatives and think about the harm that is being done to the environment,” the organisation said.

Councillors have been told that littering in the borough is a “challenge” that costs the ratepayer £2m annually despite the provision of 1,500 bins. A “significant proportion” of all litter dumped is plastic.

Members have also been advised that this has been “exacerbated” by the Covid pandemic with the most complaints received about dog fouling, fast food/beverage litter from pedestrians and vehicles, fly-tipping and cigarette litter.

In response. 14 solar-powered compacting bins are to be placed in “high-use areas” including lough shore parks in Jordanstown and Antrim Threemilewater and Macedon in Newtownabbey at a cost of £80,000.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor councillor Billy Webb had previously said: “Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges we face.

“We live in a throwaway society and I was shocked to learn that 78% of all litter found on Northern Ireland beaches is made up of discarded plastics.”