Discover the story of : Once there was a ball
The farthest distance travelled for a tennis ball, from Montreal, was 927 kilometres. The tennis balls were delivered to a school in the municipality of Grosse-Île in the Magdalen Islands archipelago (Gaspésie/Îles-de-la-Madeleine region). An even longer trip was necessary to complete delivery to the Attawapiskat First Nation, a community in the Kenora District of Northern Ontario. After more than four hours on a plane, the tennis balls completed their 1,300-kilometre journey from Toronto, becoming the farthest delivery in Canada.
In 2015, we covered nearly 35,500 kilometres delivering tennis balls to schools in Quebec alone.
The On The Ball Program’s target is to distribute a total of 282,000 tennis balls in 2018. They will be placed under the desks of some 70,500 students.
A tennis ball can last as little as 3 rallies for professional and semi-professional players. Amateurs may be able to use the same ball for up to 10 games, after which the decrease in the ball’s pressure is noticeable to the touch. When used as chair slippers in schools, each ball has a lifespan of 3 years. These balls would take 2,500 years to biodegrate in a landfill.
Tennis balls used as chair slippers reduce classroom noise by 32%, from 95 to 65 decibels. This puts noise levels below the 85-decibel threshold that can cause hearing loss.
Around the world
In the United States, Project Green Ball has many innovative ideas to reduce the number of balls going to landfills. It has produced equestrian turf made out of used tennis balls for a number of horse arenas and is currently exploring the possibility of recycling balls into tennis court surfaces.
In France, the Opération Balle Jaune initiative launched by the Fédération française de tennis plans to collect 1,600,000 used tennis balls from 31 participating leagues. The balls collected will be used to create playground surfaces for children in need. Since the initiative began, 26 such surfaces have been created.