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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Cool Fix for a Hot Planet

Air Date: Week of

Millions of tennis balls end up in the trash every year, sometimes after just hours of actual playtime. When a ball loses air pressure, it’s out of the game – until now. Living on Earth’s Bridget Macdonald reports on a company that is giving old tennis balls a second shot on the court.


YOUNG: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jeff Young. Vancouver’s Winter Olympic Games won some green credibility with unique medals – the gold, silver and bronze are all salvaged from electronic waste. We have another idea for reuse of old sports goods and it’s this week’s Cool Fix for a Hot Planet from Bridget Macdonald.


Reduce, reuse, recycle, and now, rebounce. There’s a new way to score points for the planet – on the tennis court.


More than 300 million tennis balls are made every year worldwide. But a ball’s life lasts only as long as its bounce. Even if it still looks brand-new, when a ball starts to lose air pressure, it’s “OUT” – off the court, and eventually, into a landfill.

Recycling centers won’t take tennis balls because of the high cost of separating the felt from the rubber. So tossed out balls make up nearly 20,000 tons of solid waste each year. That’s the weight of 500 18-wheelers.

But now an Arkansas-based company called Rebounces has found a way to put old balls back into play. The company re-pressurizes balls that have little wear and tear, extending their lives on the practice court by up to three weeks.

Rebounces is also developing a way to grind up worn-out balls for making court surfaces, or even garden mulch. For now, Rebounces finds good homes for retired balls. They’re donated to hospitals and nursing homes, where they’re placed on furniture legs and walkers to keep them from scuffing the floors.

Not every ball is destined for a Grand Slam, but they can all be environmental champions. That’s this weeks Cool Fix for a Hot Planet. I’m Bridget Macdonald.

YOUNG: And if you have a Cool Fix for a Hot Planet, we'd like to know it. If we use your idea on the air, we'll send you a shiny electric blue Living on Earth tire gauge. Keeping your tires properly inflated can save hundreds of dollars a year in fuel. So email us at coolfix—that's one word— coolfix at l-o-e dot org.




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