How to Recycle an Old Soccer Ball

post title over image of soccer ball and recycle sign

If you’re anything like me, you own more soccer balls than you need. But every once in a while, the time comes to clear out the old balls. At that point, you may be wondering if it’s possible to recycle the soccer balls you no longer need. In this article, I’ll give you the answer you’re looking for.

A soccer ball can be recycled. Every type of material that forms a ball is recyclable. However, the soccer ball must be stripped down into its component parts before the recycling process can begin. 

The recycling process for a soccer ball is a little complicated but manageable. Let me explain what needs to be done, the easiest way to recycle a soccer ball, and some alternative options for ways to recycle your old soccer ball that may surprise you.

The Recyclable Parts a Soccer Ball Is Made Of

Soccer balls are used all over the United States. And according to Forbes, the popularity of the sport is rapidly increasing.

This increase in popularity is great for the game but has the potential to create additional waste as more people get involved and buy more and more soccer gear.

When a ball has reached the end of its useful lifespan, the last thing you want is for it to be thrown in the trash and end up in a landfill site somewhere at a high cost to the environment.

Choosing to recycle an old soccer ball rather than just throw it in the trash is a great decision.

Unfortunately, the downside of recycling an old soccer ball is that it is not straightforward.

This is because a soccer ball is made up of several different materials.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has produced a really helpful infographic showing what a soccer ball is made from.

Have a look at it below.

Image from EPA showing what a soccer ball is made from

Soccer balls are made of plastic, rubber, cotton, and sometimes animal products such as leather. These different products are combined to create a durable and responsive soccer ball.

But the fact that a soccer ball is made up of several different materials means you can’t recycle it as one single item.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an old black and white ball or a modern colorful ball; you, or someone else, will need to be broken up before it can be recycled.

One way to do this is to do it yourself.

Find a sharp, robust pair of scissors or a knife and break the ball up into its individual parts.

Alternatively, take or send the ball somewhere where they will do this for you.

Just remember, even if you take the ball to pieces, it may not be easy to find somewhere that will recycle all those materials. Most local recycling centers are set up to deal with household packaging rather than sports equipment materials!

To give you some direction with this, have a look at some of my recommendations below.

If you’re interested in finding out how a soccer ball developed into what we see today, check out my article – History of the Soccer Ball: From Origin to Modern Day.

The Best Way to Recycle an Old Soccer Ball

Knowing what needs to be done to recycle an old ball is not the same as actually doing it. So here are some options for you to make the recycling process as simple as possible.

The best option for recycling old soccer balls is to purchase an Athletic Ball Zero Waste box.

zero waste box process
Zero waste box process

The Waste Boxes are large cardboard boxes sent to you with a pre-paid shipping address already on them.

All you have to do is put your unwanted soccer balls in the box when it arrives and then ship it back to the factory where the balls will be mechanically or manually separated into metals, fibers, plastics, and recycled.

One of the best things about these boxes is that they take any sports ball size and brand.

With these boxes, you don’t need to limit yourself to clearing out only soccer balls, but you can include any other sports balls you may have lying around that you no longer need.

Another benefit of using this option to recycle your soccer ball is that you can easily make it a community initiative.

The chances are that if you have a soccer ball, or balls, that you want to recycle, then other people you know probably do too.

Why not consider ordering one of these Zero Waste boxes, then letting your friends, family, or local soccer club know you have one.

That way, you can collect everyone’s unwanted soccer balls, send them off together and quickly reduce your impact on the environment.

This option also has the advantage that you could split the box’s cost between everyone who has participated and save yourself some money!

And if you are a part of a local soccer club, why not arrange to have a Zero Waste Box permanently accessible at the club. That way, anyone can drop off any soccer balls to recycle when the need arises.

If this option for recycling doesn’t work for you, then a few other options are available.

One option is to take the ball to your nearest recycling center.

However, because of the materials a soccer ball is made of, not every recycling center will take them.

The only way to find out is to give your local center a call and see what they say.

Alternatively, it’s often a good bet to take the ball to a place where tires are recycled. This usually works because tires and soccer balls are made up of similar materials that can be recycled into similar products.

To find out where your local tire recycling center is, have a look at this website that will locate your nearest tire recycling center.

Again, it will usually be worth double-checking they will take soccer balls before driving out there with the ball.

Donate Your Old Soccer Ball

Although recycling a soccer ball is an excellent option for that unneeded ball, you may also want to consider donating it.

Many organizations will take your unwanted sports gear and pass it on to people in need, who maybe can’t afford their own equipment.

To donate your ball, make sure it is still in reasonable condition. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure it can still be used before deciding to donate it.

If it is past the point of being usable, then carry on with your plan to recycle it or have a look at the section below on ways to re-purpose a ball.

Some of the organizations I would consider looking at to donate a soccer ball to are:

Re-Use or Re-Purpose Your Old Soccer Ball

If your old soccer ball is no longer fit for purpose, you may want to consider re-purposing it as an alternative to recycling it.

This can give a new lease of life to what was once an unwanted or unused item.

Similar to the options I listed in my article – 17 ideas for old soccer jerseys: re-use and re-purpose – there are several great ways to bring life back to that old ball.

One easy option is to allow it to be a new toy for you or someone else’s dog to play with.

Everyone knows that dogs love chasing balls. They don’t care if it’s old or new; as long as it moves, they love to chase it. And it’s often better if it’s old and a bit flat, as they can pick it up in their mouth and carry it around themselves.

And if you don’t have a dog to donate it to, inquire at your local animal shelter as they are always looking for new items for their animals to play with.

Another option is to get crafty with your old soccer ball.

If you are feeling creative enough, there is no end to the possibilities of options before you.

One option that I’ve seen people use is to upcycle an old soccer ball into a flower pot.

Check out the image below for instructions on how to do this.

upcycled flowerpot from soccer ball instructions
Instructions of how to create flowerpot from soccer ball

Another option could be to turn the ball into a soccer ball bag.

Once you start thinking about it, there are numerous options for what to do with that old soccer ball.

My Recommendations

Now you’ve seen how to recycle an old soccer ball why not consider buying a soccer ball made entirely of natural products next time.

This option on Amazon would be a great option.

For the rest of my soccer gear recommendations check out my recommended equipment pages.

Or have a look at one of these related articles below for more helpful soccer information.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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