If you have old tennis balls which were once used to volley your way through in tennis matches but now are lying around at your place because they can no longer be used competitively, you would want to recycle them, right?
Is it possible to recycle tennis balls that are worn out and have lost their bounce? Yes, tennis balls can be recycled for other purposes but not into new balls with few of the over 300 million tennis balls that are produced each year globally finding their way into something useful.
With that huge number of production and the high rate of wear and tear, it is safe to assume there are so many tennis balls that end up in landfills. However, tennis ball recycling can be done on a larger scale or even at home.
The first step is finding out if there are any tennis ball recycling firms or NGOs around you. Although they are not many, there are a few firms and individuals dedicated to making the earth a better place through recycling to reduce pollution.
Some of these NGOs include Rebounce, Recycle 360, and Recycle Tennis Balls.
That said, stick around, and let’s find out ways how tennis balls can be recycled. But before we do that, let’s find out what tennis balls are made off.
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What are Tennis Balls Made Of?
To understand and come up with ways to recycle tennis balls, we must first understand how they are made and what they are made of.
Tennis balls are made of rubber and then covered in felt material. Essentially what happens during production is injecting the rubber ball with pressurized air to give the ball the right bounce.
The ball is then covered with a layer of wool or nylon felt. Both felt and tennis ball rubber are non-biodegradable and as such are harmful to the environment.
Recycling in this case is the best course of action. The good news is there are various ways tennis ball rubber can be repurposed and recycled.
More information on everything there’s to be known about tennis balls can be found here. If you also want to understand how the tennis ball color changed with time to its current yellow/green, click here.
How to Recycle Tennis Balls?
When it comes to tennis ball recycling, your imagination is your limit. It is estimated that a tennis ball takes about 400 years to decompose.
With millions of tennis balls being mass-produced each year, recycling is a good way of putting them back into use. Here are several ways to recycle tennis balls:
Used as a Pet’s Toy
Pets, especially dogs, love to play with balls. Instead of tossing the tennis ball and buying your pet a new one, you can choose to use an old tennis ball instead. You can also choose to donate old tennis balls to pet care and animal rescue centers near you.
Know more about the best tennis balls for dogs here.
Used in Building Tennis Courts
As demonstrated by Project Green Ball, the pioneers of tennis ball recycling in the US, there are innovative ways to recycle tennis balls.
The balls can be ground and converted into cushioned mats that are used on tennis court surfaces. It is estimated that one tennis court can use up to 10,000 tennis balls.
Although Project Green Ball ceased its operations in 2020, it came up with this revolutionary way of recycling tennis balls and showed people it can be done.
The same can be adapted and used in construction of other sports spaces, for instance, the construction of basketball courts.
Used for Horse Footing
Another innovative way used by Recycle Balls, an NGO helping protect the environment by recycling tennis balls is by making high-quality horse footing for equestrian arenas.
The natural rubber and felt found in tennis balls are the perfect materials for a good horse footing. The process involves grinding and milling the tennis balls and later processing them into horse footing.
Used for Flooring
In the quest to protect the environment, L’Opération Balle Jaune, an organization in France, started repurposing tennis balls. In 2009, the organization began using tennis balls to make floor surface covers in sports halls and arenas.
The organization collected balls in the French open tournaments and sent them to a milling company that ground down the balls, separated the rubber from the felt, and then processed the rubber into floor covers.
Borrowing from the same concept, tennis balls can be recycled to make flooring for other areas like office buildings, office corridors, schools, and hospitals.
Donate to Charities and Care Centers
Tennis balls can be donated to various charities and care centers. Some charity organizations collect tennis balls and donate them to deprived children in schools and nurseries.
Some are donated to dog training centers. Healthcare centers also use tennis balls for physiotherapy.
Tennis balls are also used to cover the legs of a walker or walking stick for elderly people. The tennis balls make it easier for the individual to control the walker.
At home, you can use tennis balls on furniture. Cut the rubber and fit the ball on the furniture legs. This will help protect your floors from scratches and damage.
Turn to Accessories
Tennis balls can be turned into accessories like key holders, wallets, chapsticks, credit card holders, and phone holders. One company that repurposes tennis balls into accessories is MANikordstudio.
Home DIY Projects
From creating art, decorations, and furniture to cleaning dirt and stains, tennis balls can be used for a lot of things in the house. Some people have used tennis balls to absorb oil spills in a pool, and others have used them in laundry to decrease the drying time of wet clothes.
There is no shortage in creative ways to recycle old tennis balls.
Final Words on Recycling Tennis Balls
Tennis ball recycling is not a common practice in many parts of the world.
It is necessary to find ways to recycle tennis balls to protect the environment. With the mass production of millions of balls each year, the amount of wastage is hazardous, and not a lot is being done.
Although tennis recycling firms are very few, the potential for growth is very high. It is possible in a few years there will be a lot of changes and innovations on how to repurpose and recycle tennis balls.