Shopping centres ban helium balloons
A CHAIN of Queensland shopping centres has banned helium balloons after the shocking discovery of a branded balloon in the stomach of a dead grey-headed Albatross.
Retail First Pty Ltd, which manages 20 shopping centres across southeast Queensland, has introduced the "no helium balloon policy" due to environmental concerns and the discovery of a Retail First-branded balloon inside the bird, which was found at Fraser Island.
The grey-headed Albatross is listed as endangered in Australia and vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
It comes just a week after a Quest Community News poll found more than 78 per cent of respondents supported a helium balloon ban in Queensland.
Retail First head of marketing Bec Gascoigne said a university necropsy on the dead bird found pieces of plastic and material from two different helium balloons, but it could not be confirmed that the foreign material actually killed the bird.
"Regardless of how this vulnerable bird died, we do not want to be contributing further to the loss of such rare and beautiful creatures," Mrs Gascoigne said.
"It saddens me deeply to hear of these tragedies. The distribution or release of helium balloons is often used for promotional purposes, be it in shopping centres, weddings, school fetes, community events, and we have to start understanding the broader ramifications of this promotional practice."
The ban will include all Retail First shopping centre promotions and extends to include individual retailers in the shopping centres.
The shopping centre group is working to identify alternatives to helium balloons.
Tangalooma EcoMarines congratulated Retail First for the decision to ban helium balloons.
"Hopefully councils, other local business and the community realise the damage that helium balloons can cause, and they too ban the use of helium balloons," an EcoMarines spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for LendLease, which operates Sunshine Plaza on the Sunshine Coast and shopping centres at Mackay and Cairns, said helium balloons were not allowed in the shopping centres.
"We don't allow the use of helium balloons in our retail centres," she said.
Scentre Group - the owners of Westfield shopping centres - has been contacted for its policies on the use of helium balloons.
Pelican and Seabird Rescue president Hammy Forrest said balloons had "devastating implications" on the environment and supported Retail First ban.
"I wish helium balloons were banned nationwide and worldwide," she said.
Retail First shopping centres are: Arndale Shopping Centre at Springwood, Aspley Hypermarket, Australia Fair and Australia Fair Metro both at Southport, Booval Fair, Brookside Shopping Centre at Mitchelton, Calamvale Central, Cannon Hill Kmart Plaza, Capalaba Park, Fairfield Gardens, Logan Central Plaza, Margate Village, Mt Gravatt Plaza, Peninsula Fair at Kippa-Ring, Redbank Plaza, Stafford City Shopping Centre, Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown, Sunnybank Plaza, Sunny Park and Toowong Village.