can pickleballs be recycled
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Are Pickleballs Recyclable? What Do You Do With Them When They Crack?

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Do you have a favorite pickleball that you like to play with every game? It’s roughed up and bounces well. Then inevitably, during a game, you hit the ball and it feels different. Its pop is gone. You stop the game, inspect the ball and notice a crack in the plastic. Ugh. Your favorite pickleball has played its final game.

You can either stomp on the ball and throw it out, or figure something else to do with it. With over 500 million pickleballs manufactured annually, it makes sense to try to recycle the balls as millions of dead pickleballs pile up over time. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to recycle them, or use them in a new capacity?

What are pickleballs made of

Pickleballs are made with a thermoplastic molded resin, different types of plastics and rubber components. Many of the plastics used, including polypropylene, are not recyclable. Other plastics, such as LDPE (#4 plastic) are “a little more recyclable.” Unfortunately, however, not every recycling center will take them.

Are Pickleballs Recyclable?

To determine if pickleballs are, indeed, recyclable, first identify if the pickleball is made using LDPE (#4 plastic). According to Earth 911, you can identify the type of plastic the ball is made of by looking at the product packaging or visiting the manufacturer website. If it’s made of LDPE (#4 plastic), enter your zip code into the Earth 911 website to find recycling locations near you. Be sure to call the recycling location before you drop off the balls to make sure they accept them.

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There are also organizations, such as the ones listed below that provide collection boxes for used balls. You can place a box near your local courts. Once the box is full, you mail it back and they will take care of recycling.

Organizations that Recycle

P3 Cares

P3 Pickleball started a non-profit organization in 2023 called P3 Cares. Their organization has the capability to recycle old, cracked, or damaged pickleballs. They have partnered with a recycling provider to create a one-of-a-kind pickleball recycling program.

Since their start in 2023, they’ve already collected over 42,000 pickleballs!

If your club would like to participate in a recycling program, contact P3 Cares for a free recycle bin. Once your bin is full, you mail it back to P3. Their team will sort and prepare the pickleballs to deliver them to their recycling partner. The ground-up material is then used to make different recycled products.

Service Pickleball

Service Pickleball has partnered with plastic lumber manufacturing facilities to repurpose old pickleballs into recycled plastic lumber. Plastic lumber can be used for durable building materials such as deck boards and park benches.

Similar to P3 Cares, Service Pickleball provides recycle boxes to set out at your local club. The old balls collected are cleaned and repurposed, or recycled. Visit Service Pickleball to request a recycle box.

Re-Pickle Project

Pickles is on a mission to recycle pickleballs. They are collecting broken balls to grind up, melt down and recycle. They are looking for national partners that will collect balls and get them back to recycling partners.

Orlando Advanced Pickleball

Seeing a need to recycle old pickleballs, the Orlando Advanced Pickleball organization has started collecting balls in Florida. They have placed recycle bins at different courts in central Florida. The worn out balls are collected and turned into functioning zip-ties. As of early 2024, they have recycled more than 125 pounds of pickleballs.

Alternative Options for Dead Pickleballs

Get Creative

Get creative! There are many different ideas online to reuse a pickleball. If you’re crafty or a handyman, I’m sure you can come up with many great ideas. Let us know your idea, or share a picture in the comments below!

Reuse Them

If a ball has a small crack, it might still be able to be used. You shouldn’t use it in a tournament and you might not want to use it in a rec game, but you could use it as a practice ball, or let your kids play with it.

You could also donate the balls to a charity group, community group, or school group. I’m sure they would be grateful for slightly used balls for new players, as those groups tend to go through many pickleballs.

Eco Friendly Pickleballs

As the game of pickleball continues to grow and the need for more balls continues to grow with it, some manufacturers are looking for a solution to piling up landfills with dead balls. There are sustainable materials that manufacturers can experiment with.

Eco Sports

Eco Sports offers pickleballs that are made from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) that are made from a recyclable material. Their balls are durable and long-lasting, so you don’t have replace them as often.

Selkirk Pro S1 Ball

Most pickleballs have a relatively short game life. However, Selkirk developed their Pro S1 pickleball that is guaranteed to not crack, so you won’t have to replace your ball as often. They give their ball a guaranteed 1-year no-crack warranty. That’s a step in the right direction as it will help cut back on the number of new balls made.

Biodegradable and Sustainable

Hopefully, more manufacturers will experiment with biodegradable and sustainable materials for pickleballs. There are sustainable materials such as plant-based or recycled materials that can be used. It would be great if the ball could be durable and perform well, but also break down naturally over time.

If you are part of a club, be sure to take advantage of the organizations that offer recycle bins, or do like some of the above organizations have done – start your own recycling programs. It takes everyone’s help to limit the number of dead balls in land fills.

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About Teresa

Teresa is the idea-maker behind PickleballMAX. Teresa joins Todd to manage and market PickleballMAX. She creates pickleball content and assists with pickleball tournaments. In 2023, she wrote a pickleball devotional book titled Pickleball Is [Not] Life

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