Can Golf Balls Be Recycled?
Many commentators like to raise environmental questions around the game of golf. One question that is commonly asked is “can golf balls be recycled?”.
From an environmental standpoint, the mantra is “reduce, reuse and recycle”.
With a small number of exceptions, golf balls are not recyclable. This means from an environmental standpoint the industry needs to push for players to reuse old balls more often in order to reduce the environmental impact of the game.
Can You Recycle Golf Balls?
The majority of golf balls are made from rubber or synthetic rubber compounds surrounded by an ionomer or urethane cover.
The nature of these materials and the difficulty in separating them means that I am unable to find any concrete evidence of a genuine recycling option that breaks down used balls and re-purposes them in some way.
While most industrialized nations are now championing curbside pickups for all manner of household waste, the humble golf ball would just have to go into your ordinary trash and head for a landfill site.
This means that in order to reduce the impact of golf ball manufacture it’s important to try and reuse old golf balls for as long as possible. Once a ball has reached the end of each useful life you could try to find other uses around the home in order to avoid sending them to a landfill.
One company that does produce balls that can be recycled is Dixon Golf. However, they do come at something of a cost given they charge as much as $75 per dozen!
Are There Any Biodegradable Golf Balls?
The overwhelming majority of golf balls are made of materials that are not biodegradable. However, it is possible to purchase such balls. These balls are made of materials that will break down over time. Golfers who are concerned about the environment could use these biodegradable golf balls to help reduce their impact.
Unfortunately, these balls don’t tend to perform as well as standard golf balls.
Can You Donate Old Golf Balls?
Yes, golf balls can be donated! There are some companies that will take old and used golf balls and refurbish them to be used again. If you have balls you no longer want that are still in a playable condition you could donate them to the junior section of your local golf club. Maybe your local high school has a golf team that would appreciate some free balls.
It might even be possible to find individuals or groups who can use them for craft projects.
What Can You Do With Old Golf Balls?
Well, the most obvious thing to do with old balls is to sell them. This will allow other golfers to make use of them. You could try advertising on sites like eBay, Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. The market for used golf balls is huge!
There are a few other places you might be able to sell them. Your local professional shop or golf shop might be interested at the right price if the balls are still in reasonable condition. If they aren’t interested then there are a number of companies that specialize in refurbishing golf balls.
If you’re into arts and crafts then you might be able to use the balls to make an interesting piece like the ant in the video.
Do Golf Balls Negatively Affect The Environment?
Every product that is produced in the modern world probably has a negative impact on the environment in some way shape or form. Even if it is merely the energy used in the manufacturing process.
According to the NGF (National Golf Foundation) there were 502 million rounds in 2020 in the US alone. Given that the USA makes up roughly half of all golfers that means there were potentially 1 billion rounds played that year. Given that the average golfer loses two balls per round that means as many as 3 billion balls would have been used on a golf course.
Should I Buy Refurbished Or Recycled Balls?
There are some benefits to buying refurbished or recycled balls but also there are some downsides, too.
One of the more obvious benefits of using recycled or refinished balls is their cost. Depending upon the quality of the ball you could be paying as little as 50% or less when compared with the price of the same ball brand-new.
You are also helping to support companies that are making an effort to reduce the environmental impact of golf.
The fact that you’re using a used golf ball rather than a new one means that there hasn’t been any additional carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere due to the production process. There also won’t be any additional waste products from the manufacture of the components or the final golf ball.
Fewer component materials have to be extracted if fewer balls are made. Zinc for example can be a constituent in some golf ball designs.
The performance of a used golf ball is usually not that different from a new one. This means that using old golf balls isn’t that likely to impact your game unless you are an accomplished player.
Downsides Of Refurbished Golf Balls
Some unscrupulous golf ball recycling companies will attempt to inflate their profits by taking inferior quality balls and refinishing them to make them look like a premium ball such as a Titleist Pro V1. This is because they will be able to charge an awful lot more for a refinished Pro V1 than any other type of ball such as a TaylorMade, Callaway or Nike.
How Do You Dispose Of Old Golf Balls
Once a golf ball is too battered to be playable, you may be wondering how to get rid of it.
The first option is don’t get rid of it!
If you tend to practice then you could throw the ball into your practice bag so you can work on different aspects of your golf game.
Those of you that don’t tend to practice or already have plenty of practice balls could try donating or selling your unwanted balls.
Failing that you might be able to use them in other ways such as arts and crafts. You could potentially use them as a drainage layer in your pot plants.
If all else fails then you will probably need to put them in the trash there aren’t currently any ways to recycle golf balls.
Are There Any Recycling Options For Golf Balls?
No, the manufacturing process for most golf balls means that they can only be reused rather than broken down into their constituent parts and used for something else.
How Long For A Golf Ball To Decompose?
Before you send your unwanted balls off to a landfill remember that it could take from 100 up to 1000 years for them to decompose. Try to get as much use out of them as possible before resorting to trashing them.
Can Golf Balls Be Recycled: Conclusion
At the moment there doesn’t appear to be a significant program of genuine recycling of the materials used in golf balls. It is probably not economically viable to do so. However, if you want to reduce your footprint on the planet you could do your bit by using your golf balls until they are unfit for play or donating them to people that will.
Let’s face it most of us won’t notice the difference between a new ball and a used one anyway!