A unanimous vote by members of Darebin Council, which covers Preston, Northcote and Thornbury, has led to the decision to stop single-use plastic items being sold or used on council land in a bid to reduce pollution.

This includes balloons, which will be banned on all council property, including local parks. Local leisure centres will no longer be selling plastic water bottles and Darebin Council staff won’t be permitted to buy or use disposable water bottles and coffee cups at work.

But there will be exceptions to the ban. For health and safety reasons, plastic containers will be permitted at certain events, as long as recyclable alternatives are promoted.

The ban extends to nature strips and roads, though the rules do not apply to private property.

No penalties have been set; instead the council is planning a public-awareness program over the two years it will take for the new measures to come fully into effect. Darebin Council hopes the community will come onboard willingly.

As reported by the Age, the new policy has received criticism from Australia's balloon industry, which says the ban will lead to thousands of job losses. The Balloon Artists and Suppliers Association believe latex balloons should not be included in the ban.

The council made headlines last year following its decision to ban formal Australia Day celebrations on January 26.