New racquets are made each year that build upon the prior models, which is inherently unsustainable. Without a well-known recycling program for racquets most players will throw out their old racquets when new ones are replaced. Moreover, when strings are replaced they are not recycled, another unsustainable practice. There’s little known into the manufacturing processes of Babolat’s racquets and the general information of its factories show poor working conditions and low wages.
The tennis world has a lot of room to grow with tennis balls, strings, and racquets that get thrown out as they get old. I would love to see future recycling and reusing programs for tennis equipment and the public embrace of sustainable practices. Moreover, all company must be transparent with the materials they use and the ways they construct their products, and Babolat must also do this as I could gather little to no information on its products.
Babolat only discloses the new technologies that each years’ racquet is made of; however, it does not disclose the actual materials that create the entire racquet. In general, tennis racquets are made from aluminum and other allows like silicon, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Racquet strings can be made of “nylon, gut, or synthetic gut for the strings, and leather or synthetic material for the handle grip.” Few strings are made from animal gut, usually taken from sheep or cow intestines, while most professional players use nylon strings.
Due to a lack of information on the exact materials and processes on its tennis racquets, it’s difficult to ascertain the sustainability of the actual materials that Babolat uses. However, doing some research into the essential resources of a tennis racquet are still helpful. Regarding aluminum, much of the metal—roughly 60%--comes from recycled metal, and these recycled materials use 95% less electricity than creating new aluminum. Aluminum can also be recycled indefinitely, allowing it to have a very long lifetime value; however, since we do not know how Babolat sources its metals like aluminum, a judgement on this cannot be made. Likewise, copper is also fully recyclable.
Moving onto racquet strings, nylon and animal gut are not sustainable. Nylon is a product of petroleum and coal, and is a part of the world’s dirtiest industries. The material contributes to greenhouse gas emissions like nitrous oxide, intensive water consumption, and energy depletion from its hungry construction process. The other alternative to nylon strings is animal gut, which uses cow and sheep intestine. These strings come from “using all parts of the animal” after they have been used for farming practices, but this practice still leads to increased values for animal slaughter.
I’ve come to this rating due to the inherent properties of the metals in each racquet, the materials of the strings, and the information that Babolat presents to consumers. While its metals can come from recycled origins, I do not know if they do. However, I can discern that some percent does due to the metal industry. The strings—either synthetic or natural—are not sustainable, and with a turnover rate that needs replacement more than three to four times a year, strings lead to high waste.
Similarly, Babolat does not disclose its manufacturing processes; therefore, I’ve analyzed general racquet manufacturing to evaluate Babolat’s racquets.
Tennis racquets are formed by melting aluminum to bend it into its recognized oval shape. This process also involves using dyes to paint the racquet, but little information is released on the nature of its dyes. After the racquet is drilled and sanded to shape the racquet and add holes for the strings.
Most racquets sold within the United States are manufactured in factories in Asia. For Babolat, its racquets are made in China. There’s little to no information on worker conditions and wages for the Chinese factories that Babolat uses. However, there’s a strong history of worker abuse from these factories that include poor working conditions, unsafe environments, and low wages. Moreover, these factories are not regarded as environmentally-friendly or conscious.
Overall, knowing the general information regarding the manufacturing process of racquets allows consumers to understand the current conditions and processes that go into each professional racquet. I would rate this as a 1 because there’s little primary information from Babolat and the general information does not illuminate any environmentall-friendly or worker-priority conditions.
Babolat has been producing tennis, badminton, pickleball, and apparel since 1875 when it started specializing in racquet production. The company prides itself on its expertise, wide range of materials, and excellence in sports; however, it makes little to no mention of environmental or equity sustainability. While it emphasizes respect for athletes and people across all genders and assisting children in sports, its social and equity mission discussion ends there.
The tennis world is a part of the entire world of consumer products and sports, two industries that are rapidly changing to consumer demands that involve sustainability and eco-friendliness. It’s disheartening to see little public information from Babolat into what it is doing to create a more sustainable world as its tennis strings, balls, and racquets are not sustainable—especially as new racquet editions are coming out each year. Moreover, racquet strings need to be restrung more than three to four times each year.
Due to its lack of public information, Babolat does not get a strong grade on its company. However, Babolat has a tremendous amount of room to grow from its racquets, strings, balls, and apparel. It is a company of excellence and winning, and has embraced emerging social values. I have a strong belief that it will embrace sustainable processes and materials into its products, and I hope that it will integrate these beliefs into its public values very soon.