New balls please means waste

People of all ages are happy to collect the used balls Credit: Dropp

Lovers of tennis who regularly watch Wimbledon and other Grand Slam matches will have heard this phrase emanate from the umpire’s chair many times.

Huge global footprint

What few realize is the amount of waste a single tournament can generate or the global footprint that a tennis ball makes to allow it half an hour’s play and it can take up to 400 years to decompose.

Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are some of the foremost countries who supply rubber or physically make hundreds of millions of tennis balls annually and a huge volume is shipped to Europe and the USA not just for tournaments.

The average life of a tennis ball owned by a leisure player is estimated to be around eight hours of serious play and although some end up as dog chews, the majority are simply thrown away and end up in landfill.

One company in the Czech Republic, Dropp, has taken up the challenge and can boast that it is part of the circular economy, collecting used tennis balls and turning them into something useful.

90 per cent reclaimed

Since the company opened, it has collected some 330,000 old balls from Czech tennis clubs and is able to reclaim 90 per cent of each ball for use in soft flooring, soles for shoes, sports surfaces and more.

They are trying hard to find a use for the coloured melton material which covers the exterior of the balls and although a company in Holland claims to be able to regenerate old balls to make them usable again those behind Dropp don’t believe that the quality would be suitable for the professional game.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page