Is Recycling Full of Hot Air?
New Year’s Eve, birthday parties, graduation, gestures of goodwill after you unwittingly forget your nephew at the supermarket–there are a lot of uses for balloons. But what about after the celebrations are over and the balloons are no longer flying high? Like most issues when it comes to recycling, whether balloons can be recycled depends on the type of materials they’re made of.
Balloons come in such a large variety of shapes and designs, but the most common types of balloons are made from latex or Mylar. Latex is natural rubber tapped from the Hevea tree, so latex makes the stretchy, rubbery balloons. These are considered biodegradable because latex balloons will break down eventually, after a number of months.
Mylar balloons are made with another type of plastic sheet. Balloons made from Mylar are often coated with a metallic finish. Interesting tidbit: Mylar is actually a registered trademark owned by Dupont Tejjin Films for a specific family of products made from the resin Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). We normally don’t, however, call this material “polyester film,” but we could.
Dispose of Balloons Properly
If balloons wind up as litter in the ocean, latex balloons take up to a year to degrade because of the saltwater. In the meantime, they pose a hazard to various types of wildlife because animals mistake floating balloon bits for food.