Are Table Tennis Balls Recyclable?

  • Date: January 19, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Recycling is a great way to cut down on the amount of waste we produce and can help save our environment. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preserving natural resources, and conserving energy, recycling has many benefits for both the environment and humans. People often don’t recycle because they believe that their one effort doesn’t make a difference; this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Making one decision to recycle can have wide-ranging effects.

Table tennis balls are often made of celluloid, an early plastic that was once used for everything from billiard balls to fountain pens. It’s no surprise that companies have phased out the production of table tennis balls. They’re expensive to make and difficult to recycle. In fact, the ITTF, International Table Tennis Federation, has been actively looking for ways to incentivize recycling as it’s been so hard.

In general, table tennis balls are made of plastic or celluloid. In 2014 ITTF required the usage of plastic balls on every tournament, making the celluloid balls very rare. So table tennis balls or ping pong balls can be recycled regardless of the material they are made of.

What can you make out of a ping pong ball?

Ping pong balls may not be recyclable but they can be reused in fun and inventive ways. Here are some creative ideas for ping pong balls:

1) Make a PomPom!

Ping pong balls can be used to make a PomPom by wrapping it in yarn or string. You could also use elastic bands instead of strings. The more layers you add, the thicker your PomPom will become.

2) Create a Popsicle Stand!

Create a stand using rectangular cardboard, scissors, glue, and lots of ping pong balls. You could also use this idea as an ice cream cone holder.

3) Ping Pong lights!

This is a great idea to enrich your house decor, especially in the bedroom, with DIY lights. You only need a string of lights (Christmas lights work too!) and old ping pong balls. You will need to poke little holes in them and push each light bulb into one ball. 

4) Hang art from the ceiling!

Using ping pong ball paint you can create beautiful designs that will hang above your headboard.

5) Paint them with chalkboard paint!

Chalkboard paint is perfect for creating fun messages. It’s easy to clean up too!

6) Christmas decorations

With a bit of paint or glue and lace, ping pong balls would make great Christmas tree decorations.

7) Small pots for tiny plants

Yes, they are round, but can be used as plant pots nevertheless. You only need to glue them to something that will prevent them rolling around or even to magnets and stick them to the fridge for example. Then you will need a hole on top and a bit of soil to fill it in. Baby succulents will fit right in. Or skip the soil and make the ping pong ball holder for air plants.

What’s inside a tennis table ball?

Ping pong balls are typically made of celluloid, a type of plastic. Composite plastic nitrocellulose and camphor form celluloid. Dyes, stabilisers, and other additives sometimes may be added. Typical ping pong balls contain 70% to 80% nitrocellulose, with up to 30% camphor. Small amounts of dyes, ethanol, and stabilisers are added to produce the ball visually appealing, more stable, and less flammable.

Celluloid is also a flammable polymer that burns when exposed to heat or flame. When used in construction materials such as plywood, it can cause fire hazards if not properly treated. In fact, some countries have banned its use because of this risk. However, most ping-pong balls do not pose any significant health risks. That makes the ping pong balls so flammable.

The only real danger comes from their high density. If they were made out of lighter material like foam rubber, then there would be no problem at all. But since we are talking about cellulose acetate here, you should expect them to burn very easily.

Why do ping pong balls float in water?

The answer lies in their composition. Ping pong balls consist mostly of cellulose fibres which absorb moisture from air. This causes them to swell slightly and start to float. They will sink back down once they dry out.

Also, if you have a dent in your ping pong ball, the hot water method is the easiest to fix it. What is the hot water method? You put the ball in hot water, which will heat the air in the ball to make it expand. In most of the cases, the relation between pressure and temperature will repair the dent. If not, then there are other methods that can be used such as using an iron or heating up some sand.


In conclusion, table tennis balls are recyclable. Knowing what you can make from a ping pong ball, what’s inside a tennis ball, and the reason ping-pong balls float in water is helpful to know and remember.

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