Where does Renewaball get its raw material from?
From tennis players who throw their used tennis balls in a Renewaball collection container, which we collect and empty twice a year. We separate those balls into felt and rubber. That felt is recycled (but not in the Renewaball because a Renewaball does not contain polyester or nylon) and the rubber is used as raw material and base for the new Renewaballs - but can also be reused for sports floors, for example.
What's wrong with a 'regular' tennis ball? [green bullets]
Tennis balls are very harmful to the environment. This is not very public knowledge and not everyone realizes that, but it is a problem.
- They are almost exclusively made in South East Asia, far from where we play tennis, produced under working conditions that often do not compare to working conditions that we expect over here.
- The components of a tennis ball also come from all over the world: A tennis ball has already traveled about 80,000 km before it comes out of the package. Think of all that marine diesel, kerosene, CO2.
- Wear on a tennis ball consists of a trail of thousands of plastic microparticles that fly off the polyester/nylon felt layer. Those particles are more than likely to end up in the well-known, plastic soup.
- At the end of a tennis ball’s life, few of them end up on a tow bar at the end of a car or in a dog's mouth. Recycling a tennis ball never fully worked: the rubber and the felt were practically inseparable. And that's why about 97% of tennis balls still end up in the garbage heap - and don't decay. Or of course, in the waste incineration. Under the felt layer is black rubber and anyone who has ever seen a car tire burn knows that there is nothing nice about black rubber burning.
- There are a lot of tennis balls on this planet. We use around 5.5 million per year in the Netherlands alone. The US Open single-handedly spins 85,000 balls, Wimbledon 54,000, Roland Garros 65,000 and this is per tournament!
Who is the Renewaball made for?
For tennis players who care about environmental pollution and climate change while at the same time continue playing tennis with a good ball. As a result, working towards UN Sustainable Development Goals 12, 13, and 14.
For associations, groups, and clubs that would like to contribute to society by ensuring that balls used at their locations no longer end up in the garbage heap or the incinerator. All they have to do is place a Renewaball collection container somewhere around the club people can through their used balls in, no matter the brand. As a result, they also reduce their overall yearly waste and besides, they can of course also sell Renewaballs – making Renewaball even more circular.
But above all: Renewaballs are produced to contribute to a cleaner world and provide our own part of the solution to the serious climate problems that exist today.
Is the Renewaball a gas-pressurized ball?
Yes. Gas-filled and suitable for all types of courts. Packed in a 100% recyclable pressurized tube.
How does it play?
Renewaball has asked this question to a few good tennis players, including a professional trainer. Their feedback is as follows: a nice lively ball, fast, a fraction lighter (about 2 grams) than the balls we usually play with, which are a bit stiffer. Soft on the strings, good touch. Plays comfortably and is nice and durable. The fact that it is a little lighter (within ITF standards of course) would reduce the risk of injury.
Is it ITF approved?
Not yet. But Renewaball expects to receive approval shortly; the application is in process and the ball is made to ITF specifications.
Where is the Renewaball made?
The Renewaball is made in Western Europe. By a small factory that has been making tennis balls for many decades. Real experts.
Where is the Renewaball for sale?
Right now, only in the Netherlands. Renewaball is the world's first circular tennis ball, from Dutch soil, and launched in the Netherlands. Now for sale at several tennis clubs or online: www.renewaball.com. Online delivery all over Europe. Soon to be followed by (online) sports retailers.
We do not deliver outside Europe yet; not until we can produce locally.
Is there no plastic in the Renewaball at all?
No. What's in it: Natural rubber and synthetic rubber. The felt layer is made of sheep wool - from English and Norwegian sheep - and a little cotton.
Is the Renewaball made from 100% used tennis balls?
No, 100% is not possible, that is not feasible. Almost though. This is how it works:
First the felt. The felt layer of a Renewaball is made of wool with a little cotton. We can recognize this felt layer during collection and reuse it. But the felt layer of 'normal' balls is made of wool/nylon / polyester. We reuse that - but not for the Renewaball because it has an organic felt layer. By the way: the 100% organic felt of the Renewaball is woven in a felt factory where a lot of 'normal' tennis ball felt is made, with wool, nylon, and polyester. This means that in theory, our biological felt could contain traces of nylon or polyester.
Then the rubber, by far the main part of a tennis ball. The percentage of the Renewaball that is made from old balls is ever increasing; however, it always contains some ‘virgin rubber.’
Based on rapidly advancing proprietary technology, Renewaball is increasingly able to identify old, worn tennis balls by brand and ball type. This is necessary to know what the 'ingredients' of each specific ball are - and what still needs to be added to make it a real Renewaball. We expect to need about a year and a half to substantially raise the used-rubber percentage. But it does cap off; as mentioned before there will always be some ‘virgin rubber’ and some other components.
But every Renewaball is 100% recyclable!
Does the Renewaball have disadvantages?
Yes, we have been able to discover one so far. Our felt is made entirely of wool, this was the case for all tennis balls until sometime in the early 1960s. Wool plays well, it is durable, and biodegradable. The felt of every other tennis ball brand also contain nylon/polyester. This absorbs less moisture than wool. So, on a wet outdoor court, the Renewaball may become a little bit slower than a 'normal' ball.
If tennis balls are so bad for the environment,
why has it taken so long to come up with a more sustainable option?
We do not know why other brands have not come up with this kind of innovation before; however, this is what we do know:
To make a tennis ball from used tennis balls, you need to collect used tennis balls. That is quite a logistical operation, particularly when set up internationally and on a longer term basis.
You then have to separate the rubber and felt from those collected balls. Until recently, there was no solution: both materials are very glued together and can hardly be pulled apart properly. Renewaball has recently mastered this process well and with this innovation, among other things, opens the door to the first circular tennis ball - and that is the Renewaball.
Is a Renewaball more expensive than the balls I normally play with?
The Renewaball is not more expensive. First of all, it is simply within the price range of 'normal' tennis balls. However, due to their environmental footprint, the tennis balls you are used to playing do impose part of the real costs on subsequent generations. ‘Normal’ tennis balls carry a negative externality with a negative social cost to society, which is not reflected in its price.
Wouldn't it be better if every brand of tennis balls supplied a circular ball?
So far, Renewaball is the only one to do so. However, every brand can contribute. Through collaboration with such another brand, Renewaball can ensure that we can pick out those balls after collection (brand / type). If we know which type of ball we are dealing with during collection, we also know exactly which ingredients will come out of that ball when we separate it into rubber and felt. This way, we can turn a specific brand ball into a Renewaball of the same brand. We are open to working with other brands and not just keeping the technology to ourselves.