With summer fastly approaching, thinking about dusting off the old tennis racket and getting in a few games of tennis? You and about 25 million others according to a 2005 study done by the USTA and the Tennis Industry Association (TIA).1
So, you are headed to the court with multiple cans of tennis balls and your killer tennis racquet. Here is the usual scenario. You are at the service line ready to show your opponent that Andy Roddick has nothing on your serve. You bounce the ball, and you hear this sound, “dung.” The ball barely makes it up to your shin. You try another and then another with the same results. Before you ready to give the balls the heave ho into the trash can, consider giving them a little love and recycle your tennis balls. I don’t mean giving them to Fido or putting on the bottom of your chairs so your floors don’t scuff. Send them to Rebounces, who will refurbish decent quality tennis balls to keep those balls in play rather than a landfill.
Rebounces is the match point of Grant Garland and an associate, who together have developed a business employing a process to re-pressurize quality tennis balls that are no longer usable. These repurposed balls are thereupon sold to be used for either practice balls for lessons and tennis teams, or for recreational purposes. In essence similar to the Nike slogan, “Play on” as it pertains to recycling sneakers, these tennis balls are given another life to bounce again.
Over 300 million tennis balls are manufactured throughout the world each year according to the ITF (International Tennis Federation). If that is too hard to fathom, just think how many tennis balls a tennis instructor uses when giving lessons. I remember since it was my job along with all the other kids to pick up all those balls at the end of the lesson. I swear there were thousands of them (probably more like 200 but as a kid having to groan about 200 balls would not have been as dramatic.)
Collecting tennis balls to be recycled is a great service club project for schools or any organization. Instituting it at a tennis club would even be better. Rebounces offers free shipping anywhere in the United States provided you collect more than 250 decent quality balls. (See update below.) The Company discourages sending them balls in which the felt has been removed, torn, or full of mud (i.e. from Fido) since they can’t repurpose them. The company will take shipments of any amount from anywhere in the world, but the shipper must bear the cost.
During my conversation with Grant, I learned that both he and his partner grew up playing and loving the game of tennis. He envisions that the Rebounces program could allow towns and schools that have very little funding for sports to be able to start a tennis program since the cost of the repurposed balls is much less than new ones. Schools, camps, and tennis clubs will benefit greatly by using these balls. Not only would their garbage disposal costs be reduced since they will no longer need to throw away so many dead balls, but their cost to purchase practice balls would be less given the lower cost of the repurposed balls.
According to Grant, a good quality tennis ball costs about $.67, and the repurposed ball will be less. Call the Company for details with regards to pricing of an A tier ball (balls that are used by professionals and sport enthusiasts for serious practice) and a B tier ball (for recreational use).
This company is only in its infancy, but already has the ball rolling. They have been contacted by GreenSlam, an initiative led by Billy Jean King, whose goal is “to make sports we love play environmentally fair.” Rebounces also plans to have collection receptacles at every tennis club and academy.
For those balls whose felt has been torn, check out the following article for how to reuse the balls:
“50 Great Things You Never Knew You Could Do with Tennis Balls” by Delana at Life Hackery (which I found via “Want to recycle used tennis balls” by Linda Frazier)
Thanks goes to the team over at Laptop Lunches for this tip. I read it in their informative newsletter. See my article about this terrific company, helping to reduce lunch time waste through the use of sale of their lunch boxes.
Update 12/21/2009: Rebounces will now send you a prepaid freight slip for packages containing 100-500 balls. If you have less, consider starting a drive or partnering with an organization who is collecting balls. Contact them to find out who is collecting them in your area. Alternatively, you can pay to send them yourself.
1United States Tennis Association. “Tennis Participation Grows by more than One Million Players to Reach Highest Participation Level in 13 Years.” [Online] 30 November, 2005. http://www.usta.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=280183.
Photo by permission of Rebounces