Saving The Planet, One Tennis Ball At A Time

Six year old girl collecting tennis balls
Olivia Lopez, 6, helps collect the tennis balls from the court during the 2022 Junior Tennis Clinic. /Photo: John Schisler

Fact: Approximately 125 million used tennis balls end up in America’s landfills each year.

Fact: Tennis balls take 400 years to decompose.

Fact: Used tennis balls account for 20,000 metric tons of methane-producing rubber waste.

Fact: U.S. tennis players want to do something to change that.

You’ve played a competitive tennis match. Now, here’s the dilemma. What to do with those used tennis balls?

If you play at the Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center, you can recycle them.

Typically, tennis balls lose their bounce after six hours of play and are discarded. John Brown, vice president of Indoor Tennis for Mt. Lebanon, plays tennis twice a week and noticed “we had a Mount Everest of throwaway plastic balls and used tennis balls going to the landfill. Continually, people talked about the waste going out the door, but we didn’t have a solution until I found RecycleBalls.” Established in 2016, the Burlington, Vermont, firm currently has 2,000 national partners.

The tennis ball recycling program is a big success in Lebo. Now in its fourth year, 60,000 balls, amounting to six tons, have been recycled. In fact, Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center was recently recognized as one of the top contributors of all time.

After players deposit their used tennis balls into courtside recycling bins, the Tennis Center maintenance staff collects the balls on site and Brown ships them to RecycleBalls in a prepaid UPS mailer.

The balls are recycled into garden mulch, dry wall, horse footing and tennis court surfaces. Some are earmarked for purchase as “no trash” dog balls that can be recycled back at no cost.

The financial collection skills of Indoor Tennis for Mt. Lebanon, coupled with the assistance of $300 in annual donations from tennis players covers the cost of bins, mailings and membership.

Brown is proud of the effort being put forth by local tennis players. “It’s just good business and represents our community/tennis center player commitment to sustainability,” he said.

Check out to learn more about the tennis ball recycling program.