The Tennis Ball Recycling ChallengeWe waste tennis balls. The majority of tennis balls are used a couple of times, then discarded, and soon add to our landfill problem. The reason is that recycling them is not simple; the balls require separate collection, and different recycling treatment. The tennis community wants to participate in recycling tennis balls – there has just never been a simple way to do so. The result: an estimated 125 million tennis balls entering American landfills annually.
We are working to change that here in Wisconsin.
OUR RECYCLING PARTNERSHIPS – Making it workThe Tennis Shop is partnering with local groups — tennis associations, schools, and city parks departments — to make recycling simple, convenient, and low-cost. We have contributed a number of specially-designed collection boxes (the Green Box) for use at public tennis courts. These boxes are designed specifically for the collection of used tennis balls: they attach to tennis court fencing, make it convenient to deposit balls, and easy to empty and collect them. Our local partners oversee the collection and distribution of the tennis balls.
WHERE DO THE BALLS GO?Currently, the most common use for used tennis balls is to repurpose them for other uses, as opposed to recycling (i.e. actually breaking them down). Schools use the balls for the bottoms of desks and chairs, people put them on the bottoms of walkers, and of course... dogs love them. Additionally, the lost pressure in used balls slows them down and reduces the height of their bounce, making them easier to use for beginning junior players or indoor programs operating on non-tennis court floors.
There are now national companies in the early stages of trying to break down the materials in tennis balls — specifically the rubber — to use as recycled material (think, running shoes for rubber tracks). We help our local partners connect with these companies. For example, Rebounces (www.rebounces.com) will pay for the shipping of balls to them, to be both re-purposed and recycled. Project Green Ball (www.projectgreenball.org) is a non-profit organization working to recycle used tennis balls and to donate surfaces based on the recycled balls to organizations servicing people with disabilities or life threatening diseases.
We leave the re-use/recycle decision up to the groups collecting the balls. If you are interested in receiving the recycled balls for reuse, please contact us or one of our collection partners.