Can Soccer Balls Be Recycled?

In today’s predominantly consumer-centric world, people tend to buy more things than they actually need.

This sounds relatable especially when it comes to the matter of soccer gear, right?

You purchase one of the best soccer balls that you can find, and a few months later you’re craving the next one!

But what happens when you’ve amassed a neat collection of six or seven soccer balls and you no longer need the majority of them?

Well, in today’s article I’m going to provide you with the answer to that question.

To cut right to the chase…

A soccer ball can be recycled as every component that the ball is comprised of is capable of being reused for a different purpose. Although, a soccer ball must first be deconstructed into singular parts before it can be recycled.

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So, let’s look at the different ways that a soccer ball can be recycled.


How to recycle a soccer ball

The process is simpler than one might actually think.

I know I was guilty of having the thought that this topic would be filled with complexity before I wrote about it!

Essentially, there are two easy ways to recycle a collection of old soccer balls.


1. Use a zero-waste box

soccer ball recycling - zero waste box

The TerraCycle company have put together a unique product – called the Zero Waste Box – that caters towards the recycling of any brand and size of athletic sports ball.


This means you’re not just limited to recycling soccer balls which have lost air that you can’t be bothered to fix, as the list of what’s allowed includes but is not limited to:

  • Tennis balls
  • Baseballs
  • Golf balls
  • Bowling balls


How it works

A person simply places an order for their small, medium or large cardboard box and waits for the delivery to be sent to their postal address.

Upon arrival, you’ll note that the requested box has a prepaid shipping return label stuck onto it, which means that the customer doesn’t have to pay for postage.

Once you’ve dumped your unused soccer balls inside the box, you simply secure it and ship it back to the TerraCycle address printed on the shipping label that comes with the box.

Upon receipt, TerraCycle will sort and process the soccer balls into reusable raw materials like fibres, fabrics, plastics and even metals.


Making the waste box cost effective

Despite the fact that the price of an order is quite steep at $176, it does the job tremendously.

But then again if you’re ordering a waste box for yourself, you might not want to part with such a significant sum of money just for something to be recycled.

So, what I’d suggest is that you make this recycling exercise a neighbourhood or community initiative.

This means you’d rally up a few of your friends, family and nearby residents to recycle their unwanted sports balls as well!

By doing things in this way, you’ll be able to split the cost of a single waste box between yourselves which will save you a good amount of money altogether.


2. Take it to a tyre recycling plant

soccer ball recycling - tyre recycling plant

If you’re not looking to take your wallet out of your pocket for a Zero Waste Box, then consider taking your soccer balls to a tyre recycling plant instead.

The reason why I’ve suggested a tyre recycling centre is because tyres and soccer balls are made up of similar materials.

You can use this website to find a tyre recycling centre near you or simply do a Google search and see what pops up in the results.

But before you head over to the nearest recycling plan, be sure to double check with the staff who work there – via phone call or email – that they will take your soccer balls because they may have specific acceptance policies that you may not be aware of.


What else can you do with old soccer balls?

Alternatively, if you’re not keen on recycling your soccer balls but still want to give them away, then you’ve got a few extra options at your disposal.


1. Donate them

There are many non-profit organisations that will gladly accept your unused sports equipment.

This is because they will be able to give these items on to low-income families or poorly funded sports teams that aren’t in the financial position to be able to afford such gear in the first place.

Picture an orphaned five-year-old boy who would be really grateful to receive a soccer ball that’s still in a decent condition.

It’s probably a luxury that they never even dreamt of having.

There is an organisation in the United States called Peace Passers that accepts used soccer gear and soccer balls which they distribute to underprivileged children within the country, so this could be a good starting point.

Some other choices include donating to:

You could also consider donating your soccer balls to animal rescue organisations.

As a refuge centre for the endangered cats, dogs and other animals of the wild, your unused soccer balls would make great play toys as they can be chewed on, thrown and caught.


2. Repurpose them

Another option is to alter their use from being items of sporting activity to things like home crafts or interior décor.

For example, gardeners can cut soccer balls in half and use the hollowed-out component as flower planters.


Are soccer balls eco-friendly?

Naturally, some of you may be curious to find out whether soccer balls are harmful to the environment.

Well, your normal soccer ball that’s made with synthetic leather that’s usually processed in factories.

So, despite the fact that soccer balls can be recycled, they wouldn’t be classed as eco-friendly products purely due to the fact that their production harms the environment through the gas emissions that these manufacturing facilities let out.

But don’t let that dampen your spirits!

There are quite a few eco-friendly soccer balls that have been developed in recent years, such as the:

You can also have a look at our article which covers the topic of whether soccer balls are biodegradable, because it includes some alternative eco-friendly options that you might want to consider.



Let’s now quickly recap what the main premise of the article has been about.

Soccer balls can be recycled, mainly through breaking their parts down and repurposing them by way of processing them into raw materials that can be reused.


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Samuel Waihenya
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