Balloon litter poses a significant threat to Florida’s ocean, waves and beaches, and the communities and economies that depend on them. With balloons among the most common items found on beaches during clean-ups, Surfrider’s network has helped pass more than 31 balloon laws nationwide, including Florida.
While local governments throughout the state have elected to ban balloon releases from their communities altogether, a pesky loophole in Florida statutes allows individuals to release up to ten helium-filled balloons per day. This statute is confusing for members of the public and enforcement alike, and should be clarified to ensure balloons do not clog our beaches and waterways. To prevent what goes up from coming back down to pollute where it lands, Surfrider and its partners statewide are advocating to repeal the intentional balloon release provision, and ensure intentionally released balloons are subject to the same fines and penalties as other types of litter under Florida’s litter law.
Surfrider’s Florida network supports HB321 / SB602 Release of Balloons, sponsored by Representative Linda Chaney (R - St. Pete Beach) and Senator Nick DiCeglie (R - St. Petersburg), which would remove this provision and effectively treat balloons like any other type of litter under state law. Building on momentum from advocacy during the 2023 legislative session and Florida Healthy Beaches Day, Surfrider’s 11 chapters and 8 clubs in Florida are working alongside state partners to advocate for this bill with members of the state legislature during the 2024 legislative session.
In the House, the bill has been referenced to the Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Subcommittee, and Infrastructure Strategies Committee. The bill has not yet been placed on an agenda.