Florida Bans Intentional Balloon Releases  - Oceana USA

Florida Bans Intentional Balloon Releases 

Oceana applauds Florida state legislators for protecting ocean wildlife and coastlines

Press Release Date: March 5, 2024

Location: Tallahassee, FL


Ariana Miller | email: amiller@oceana.org | tel: Ariana Miller

Today, Florida House lawmakers passed House Bill 321, which bans the intentional release of balloons and classifies released balloons as litter. Yesterday, the Senate passed the bill, which will go into effect July 1, 2024. The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and will now go to Governor DeSantis’ desk to be signed into law. Sen. Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Linda Chaney (R-St. Pete Beach) led this state legislative effort. 

Balloons and their plastic ribbons, tie-off disks, clips, and other attachments can be easily ingested and swallowed by endangered sea turtles, seabirds, and other ocean wildlife. In fact, studies show balloons ranked among the deadliest ocean trash for key wildlife and are the deadliest form of plastic debris for seabirds.  

“Florida made the right call today in banning intentional balloon releases. Balloons are one of the deadliest forms of plastic pollution for ocean wildlife,” said Oceana Field Campaigns Manager Hunter Miller. “It’s great to see state legislators from both sides of the aisle come together to support a commonsense bill and get it passed. We call on Governor DeSantis to quickly sign this into law.”  

Rep. Chaney stated, “This issue is important for my district. Having a mixed-use district, with most of the communities being on the water but also seeing extensive agricultural land in Pinellas Park, our area knows all too much about the devastation that the intentional release of balloons can cause. In our district, environmental protection is a top concern and I am privileged to carry bills that will help us preserve our natural landscapes and wildlife ecosystems.” 

While Oceana applauded the state legislature for passing the balloon release ban, the organization noted that it is imperative that state lawmakers build on this progress and continue to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. Plastics are polluting the oceans and harming public health and tourism-based economies. The solution is to stop the problem at its source by reducing the amount of plastic produced and used. 

In July 2022, Oceana released a Florida statewide poll revealing that 87% of Florida voters support local, state, and national policies that reduce single-use plastic. Included among the key findings: 92% of registered Florida voters are concerned about single-use plastic products and 91% are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment. 

Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey, and more. It’s also one of the greatest contributors to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences. 

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics.