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ASB creates biodegradable Sustainaball to celebrate Classic

ASB is taking a sustainable spin on one of the most iconic Kiwi summer props, the humble tennis ball, creating a world-first biodegradable Sustainaball which can produce a native New Zealand seedling.

While a normal tennis ball can take hundreds of years to break down, the ASB Sustainaball has been designed to break down in less than ten years.

ASB head of community and sponsorship Mark Graham said the idea behind the Sustainaball was to solve an issue most Kiwis had experienced when their tennis balls went missing over summer, and to celebrate ASB’s longstanding sponsorship of the ASB Classic.

“Our research shows that every year approximately 325 million tennis balls are produced, which contributes roughly 20,000 tonnes of waste in the form of synthetic rubber that is not easily biodegreadable,” said Graham.

“We’ve all lost tennis balls at some point in our lives – whether that be playing backyard cricket, tennis, or throwing a ball for the dog – but we wanted to help limit the impact those lost balls have on the environment by creating something that was more sustainable, and might help regenerate our New Zealand native forests at the same time,” said Graham.

Each ball contains seeds from one of several native plant species in a water-soluble sticker, which can germinate under the right conditions as the ball biodegrades.

ASB’s Sustainaball has been designed in conjunction with Queenstown based 4Design who also developed ASB’s innovative digital money box Clever Kash.

“We have previously worked with 4Design and were impressed with their innovative thinking around Clever Kash. It was a logical fit for them to also help us create Sustainaball,” said Graham.

“We’re not suggesting people throw the balls away on purpose, but they are made of natural materials and contain native New Zealand seeds so if the ball is lost, it will be better for the environment than a normal tennis ball,” said Graham.

The Sustainaball is part of ASB’s focus on sustainability at the ASB Classic, which includes partnering with charity Trees That Count, offsetting carbon emissions for players and their support staff, and working with Tennis Auckland on a sustainability plan with the aim of having no landfill waste or single use plastic by 2022 at the tournament, and being a zero carbon event by 2023.

“This is a great initiative from ASB,” said ASB Classic director Karl Budge. “How awesome to see a used tennis ball contributing to a better planet.

“We are very fortunate to have a partner like ASB who are so innovative in this space and push us to be better. We have a long way to go, however we are really encouraged by the support we have had from our partners as we strive to make improvements year on year,” said Budge.
The Sustainaballs will be available to view and play with at the ASB Classic and available for purchase next year, with all funds going to Trees That Count to plant more native trees.

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