The sporting equipment industry is a major polluter globally, generating thousands of tonnes of waste in Australia alone each year. Ending up in rivers, roads and landfills, tennis equipment disposal is dangerously mismanaged in Australia. And with sports lovers already facing the dire impacts of pollution and global warming, there has never been a better time to change the way we throw away.
Tennis ball pollution in the Yarra River
In their 2020 report, the Yarra Riverkeeper Association (YRKA) have captured the extent of mismanaged waste in the Yarra River waterways. The YRKA found that:
- Rubber toys (predominantly tennis balls) were the fifth most common item collected from the banks of the Lower Yarra River, closely behind syringes, plastic bottles, plastic food packaging and polystyrene packages;
- Between 2017 and 2019, balls were the third most common item found in Yarra River litter traps, and;
- Tennis balls were amongst the three most commonly littered items in the Yarra River when surveyed upstream [i].
YRKA has proven that pollution in the Yarra River causes immense harm to the waterway’s biota. In particular, tennis balls are made from rubber and require specific waste management systems, as rubber isn’t biodegradable and can lead to harmful leachates in waterways [ii]. Despite regular river clean-ups, pollution in the Yarra River continues to destroy this once naturally abundant resource, as vast amounts of microplastics and microrubbers are nearly impossible to remove from the waters and shores. Not only is the Yarra River responsible for nearly 70% of Melbourne’s drinking water, but it is also home to kookaburras, koalas, eastern grey kangaroos, gliders, bats, native fish, eastern long-necked turtles and more.
It is evident that the pollution-driven loss of healthy ecosystems and local biodiversity is detrimental to people, animals and plants alike. Unfortunately, such consequences in environments like the Yarra River will continue to harm both present and future generations if we can’t keep sporting waste out of our finite natural ecosystems. Luckily, however, with plenty of room for improvement and an array of sustainable ideas for pollution prevention, Game On Recycling is here to facilitate effective waste management solutions.