Soccer balls can last anywhere from 2 months to a few years depending on how often you play them and the material used to make the ball. Sadly, most soccer balls are not made of biodegradable materials.
The earliest form of soccer balls was made from pig’s bladder and did not present any environmental hazard. However, newer generations of soccer balls are made from a mixture of materials including synthetic leather, rubber, and plastic.
What this means is that at the end of their lifecycle, you cannot toss them into the garden hoping that they will degrade and become manure for your plants. That brings about the question, how do you dispose of soccer balls?
- Soccer balls are made using a combination of materials that are not biodegradable making it unhealthy to toss them into the trash can
- A smart way to dispose of soccer balls is to donate them to charities or pet houses
- Old soccer balls can be reused for making DIY crafts for decorating the homes
Polyurethane, polyester, and silicone are some of the materials used for making soccer balls. These materials are common environmental pollutants which explains the reason why it is bad to throw away your old soccer ball.
Another common practice in some parts of the world is people burning their old soccer balls. This is wrong because it leads to the release of unhealthy gasses like polychlorinated biphenyls (BCPs), mercury, furans, and dioxins into the air.
These chemicals pose a serious health risk to humans as well as vegetation. Thankfully, there are safe ways of disposing of soccer balls and we will tell you all about them in this article.
How to dispose of soccer balls?
Soccer balls are one of the most used sports gear around the world. This is not surprising considering the huge number of soccer fans we have around the world.
Between team training and personal practice, you will find yourself running to the sports store often in search of a replacement for your old balls. This is leading to the churning out of tons.
However, with the growing call for action against global warming, people are becoming more conscious of how their waste disposal habits affect the environment.
The external covering of most premium soccer balls is made from processed leather. Firstly, leather is gotten from the skin of animals which can include sheep, goats, kangaroos, and cows.
The higher demand for new soccer balls means more animals will have to be killed for their skin. While leather is supposed to be biodegradable, the tanning process used to convert them to industrial leather alters the chemical composition of the leather fibers which also changes them from biodegradable to non-biodegradable.
Well, if you are so conscious of the environment, it will interest you to know that there are biodegradable balls. However, they are usually hard to find.
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These ranges of soccer balls are usually made using environmentally friendly TPU material which makes them a good alternative to processed leather.
Others are made using recycled materials such as polyethylene terephthalate which helps to reduce the plastic waste burden on the environment.
If you prefer the traditional nonbiodegradable balls, there are still ways you can dispose of them without contributing to environmental pollution. We will highlight all of them below.
We figured that not every soccer player or fan uses soccer balls in the same way. So, it makes sense to categorize the solutions based on the different types of users.
By heavy users, we mean professional soccer players or those in teams that need to change their balls often because of their daily training. The solutions we will highlight below are best suited for those that change soccer balls as frequently (weekly, monthly, or quarterly)
1. Recycle the ball
Recycling is by far the easiest method of disposing of soccer balls for heavy users. For those in this category, it is easy to watch the soccer balls pile up into an unbearable heap within a few months.
Recycling is best for soccer balls that have maxed their duration. If you have a soccer ball that is still reusable, we will tell you what to do with it soon. There are two ways you can recycle your soccer balls.
Send them to a recycling plant
Any factory that recycles tires or works with plastic will likely accept used soccer balls for recycling. The only thing you have to do here is to find them.
Before running off to a recycling plant, it is always nice to contact customer service to be sure they accept balls for recycling at that specific time. It will be devastating to get there only to discover that they don’t accept soccer balls at that time.
Once the recycling plant gets the ball, they will first clean it before either shredding the ball and gluing it back together or bonding them with natural rubber. The recycled leather is then used for making belts, shoes, wallets, and so on.
Send them to TerraCycle
As we mentioned earlier, soccer balls are often hard to recycle because of the different materials used in making them. However, there are innovative companies like TerraCycle that are specifically designed to recycle hard-to-recycle materials.
TerraCycle is a US-based company that runs a volunteer program where consumers can send hard-to-recycle materials. They collect these materials and sort them into the ones that are reusable and the ones that need to be recycled.
The reusables are sent to organizations that need them while the ones that are not reusable are turned into raw materials for use in making new products. The process for sending your soccer ball to TerraCycle is highlighted below.
Browse their large catalog of Zero Waste Box which can be small, medium or large depending on the number of balls you want to recycle.
Shop and pay for the box. It will be delivered to you via your postal address. The boxes come with prepaid shipping return labels
Fill the brown cardboard boxes with your old soccer balls and mail them back to the return address.
The prices of the boxes can vary depending on the size of the ball. Since you will be paying a minimum of over $100 for a box, this method is more suitable for disposing of a large number of soccer balls.
If you want to use this method without bearing the huge cost alone, you can search among your neighbors for those that need old balls they want to dispose of, pool them together, and split the cost among each person.
For light users, the methods described above may not be too stressful or too expensive. For example, if you use a soccer ball for over a year or two, ordering a TerraCycle box may not make sense.
Also, picking up an old ball and driving a long kilometer in search of a recycling plant may not be sustainable either. If you fall within the category of light users, one of the methods below may be a better option.
1. Donate the ball
Donating used soccer balls is one of the ways to dispose of them. Within your neighborhood, you will most likely find kids that are yearning for a soccer ball that would not mind if it is old or new.
Disposing of soccer balls in this way will also fill you with joy and a sense of accomplishment from watching the excitement on the face of the recipient. Just make sure the person you are giving the ball to is not too young to use them to avoid causing them injuries.
Alternatively, there are charities all over the United States that accept used balls and sports gear for onward distribution to children around the world that may need them.
If you happen to live in a rich neighborhood where there are no underprivileged kids, giving to charities will also help to get the job done.
Pet houses regularly need used soccer and tennis balls too. They use these used sports gadgets to make play toys for animals.
Reach out to any pet house in your vicinity and enquire if they are accepting used soccer balls at that moment. We are almost certain that their answer will be ‘YES’.
2. Turn the ball into a useful craft
Finding a way to reuse what we consider waste is another way of disposing of them. There are lots of DIY tricks that can transform used soccer balls into something elegant for decorating homes.
From flower pots to lamp holders to bags and piggy banks, your options are limitless. However, the most common is using them as a flower pot. To do this, follow the steps below.
Cut a hole through the soccer ball. The hole should be large enough for your plant to easily fit in.
Cover the inside of the ball using aluminum foil. This helps to prevent water from ruining the soccer ball
Pour some sand into the soccer ball. The soil should cover at least half of the inside.
Insert your flower or plant into the soccer ball and fill the remaining space with soil.
Water the soil and keep your ball where the plant can get sunlight.
You can paint a beautiful pattern on the outside of the soccer ball to make it more aesthetically appealing. This is advisable if you have a soccer ball with a worn-out surface.
Most soccer balls on the market are made using materials that are not biodegradable. When you toss them into the trash can, they will likely end up in landfills which hurts the environment.
Properly disposing of your used soccer balls will not only help save the planet but can also be used as a tool for bringing happiness to the face of someone out there that may need them.
Finally, when soccer balls become old, they present you with raw materials that you can use for making different DIY crafts like bags, flower pots, and lap holders. Let your imagination run wild and share with us any new craft you make with your old soccer balls.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!