Last Updated on December 30, 2021
Every day, hundreds of thousands of tennis balls are consumed worldwide. So we asked ourselves: how harmful are they to the environment? The answer, unfortunately, leaves little hope.
What are tennis balls made from?
Tennis balls are composed of rubber and wool (or nylon) and are compressed until they reach a perfect balance to bounce flawlessly. Afterward, they are enclosed in a strictly plastic tube. The whole process takes place with non-recyclable materials that are very harmful to the environment. To be clear, a single ball takes more than 400 years to decompose.
An amateur player uses a tube of balls for three or four games (about eight hours of training) before changing them and throwing them away. The pros just for a couple of hours.
The situation becomes tragic in ATP and WTA tournament matches (as well as ITF events), where balls are changed every seven and nine games. In a slam, for example, more than 54000 tennis balls are consumed in just two weeks.
This usage produces more than 3.5 tons of non-recyclable plastic. Another problem is the PET composition of these instruments.
The PET (Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate) handle represents microplastics within the product, like we find in clothing and water bottles. Each time you hit the ball, therefore, a large amount of microplastics are released into the environment.
Will there be a revolution?
It is not clear, after these simple analyses, why the tennis ball is still considered as a good that can be used only once and not recyclable.
As of 2018, thankfully, the nonprofit organization RecycleBalls (in partnership with Wilson) has managed to save seven million balls in the United States alone.
The following year, the famous house launched at a WTA Future tournament the Triniti, the first environmentally sustainable ball. It is a ball made of recycled cardboard, very fresh and more resistant than those used.
After the trial, however, we have not seen the Triniti in ATP and WTA tournaments.