Balloons are a great addition to any party, filling it with fun, excitement and colour. Whether it’s new years’ eve, graduation or birthday parties, balloons have long been part of the celebration. But what do you do after the party’s over with your balloons? Ultimately, safe disposal of your balloons depends on what they’re made of.
Balloons tend to be made out of one of two materials- latex or Mylar. Latex is made from the natural rubber tapped from the Hevea tree, and makes the stretchy, rubbery balloons people are most familiar with. Latex balloons eventually break down and decompose, making them biodegradable.
Mylar balloons are made from a Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) resin and often coated with a metallic finish. Interestingly, Mylar is in fact a registered trademark owned by Dupont Tejjin Films for a family of products.
As latex is biodegradable, they can go in the bin; however, there are currently no facilities to recycle them. The worst thing to happen to latex balloons is ending up in the ocean. Here, they can take over a year to decompose due to the effects of saltwater. They also become a risk to wildlife, as fish and marine birds and mammals may mistake the balloon waste for food.
Once your balloons have been deflated, the best thing to do is put them in the bin, so that they end up in a landfill site.
Unlike latex, Mylar balloons don’t decompose so shouldn’t be thrown away if you can avoid it. They can be recycled, and there are a few crafty uses for Mylar balloons after they’ve deflated, that you can try.
- Frame them: Mylar balloons look surprisingly good flattened, depending on the design. Thin black frames, the kind used to frame records, offer a particularly good luck and create a memento from a celebratory moment.
- Scare birds: The reflective, metallic material on Mylar balloons works the same way CDs and DVDs do in detracting birds from your garden. Simply cut the balloon into strips and sturdily tie them round your garden.
- Crafting: Small items such as tote bags, wallets and balloon flowers can be made if you collect enough Mylar.
- Gift wrap: Mylar balloons can make gorgeous metallic wrapping paper, depending on the design.
- Balloon ribbons: No matter which type of balloon you have, the chances are the ribbon or string attached to the balloon is neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Once more, this string or ribbon can adversely affect wildlife, so make sure you cut it up into small pieces before throwing it away, to minimise the chances of an animal hurting themselves on it.