The Incredible Journey of a Wimbledon Tennis Ball

posted 28.06.2013

[caption id="attachment_5211" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Journey of a Tennis Ball"]Wimbledon's Tennis ball Production Miles[/caption]

In a week of shocks at Wimbledon, which started with Nadal?s early exit and followed by a host of other high profile departures, the latest shock is the revelation of the seemingly excessively high carbon footprint of the balls used at this years tournament.

An academic has calculated that the balls have travelled a staggering 50,570 miles (more than twice around the world!) before they reach the grass courts of Wimbledon, describing the journey as one of the longest to be taken by a product.

Materials used in the production of the ball have travelled from four different continents and passed through 11 different countries before production of the ball in Bataan in the Philippines.  This includes clay shipped from the US, silica from Greece, wool from New Zealand (via Stroud in Gloucestershire where it is turned to felt before being sent to Bataan), as well as other components from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. Following this they begin their 6600 mile trip to the hallowed turf at Wimbledon (with one brief stop in Indonesia to be packaged).

[caption id="attachment_5212" align="alignleft" width="300" caption=""These tennis balls travelled how far?""][/caption]

Dr Mark Johnson, Associate Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School, has stated that whilst this is one of the longest journeys witnessed by a product, it demonstrates the complex nature of supply chains in the manufacturing process, with a truly global production nature. He pointed out however that this was likely the most cost effective way to produce the balls.

It is a clear example of how the reduction in logistics costs following the financial crash has had a profound change on production techniques with increasingly global supply chains.

What would the Wombles think?

Category: environment, in the news, Mike Close, resources