Several local governments around Norway have decided to ban the sale of helium balloons on the upcoming Constitution Day on the 17th of May. They contend the balloons contain pollutants and too often end up as garbage in the hills, forests or the sea.
“If you let go of a helium balloon, it will probably land in the sea,” Egil Olsen, leader of the 17th of May Committee in Stavanger, told state broadcaster NRK. The west coast city has thus become the latest to ban balloon sales, also on the grounds they have nothing to do with the holiday itself.
Bergen, Haugesund, Tromsø and Fredrikstad have already prohibited sales, while the city council in Trondheim will allow sales but only, reported local newspaper Adresseavisen, if the balloons are supplied with a weight that will prevent them from flying away. Calls are also going out for a national ban on helium balloons.
Lisbet McCarroll, who runs The Balloon Company in Oslo, is unhappy about the bans and fears a revenue loss of up to 20 percent if a national ban is approved. “It’s not the 17th of May balloons that contribute to plastic garbage in Norway,” she told NRK, “It’s the food wrappings and plastic bottles. That’s where plastics need to be reduced.”
Helium balloon sales were banned last year in Skien, Porsgrunn, Drammen, Bodø, Kristiansand, Halden and Arendal. Oslo’s City Council hasn’t voted on the issue yet but will debate it later this week and take a vote next week.