“Wow, you changed your racket to the YONEX VCORE Series,” I said, surprised by the fact that another hitting partner of mine changed to the YONEX VCORE racquet.
“Yes, Andrew. Didn’t you find that this YONEX racquet has gained lots of popularity these days,” my friend asked.
“Indeed, man. Otherwise I wouldn’t ‘wow’ at the first place,” I replied.
Given the growing popularity of YONEX VCORE Series, it is imperative to review the sustainability level of this product, which is the main reason I am writing this review. Overall, I think the manufacturing process of this YONEX racquet is definitely not as sustainable as Wilson’s Naked Series (check out my review on that); however, YONEX has committed to sustainable practices in certain innovative ways, and I am looking forward to conducting a more in-depth research in order to come up with a most accurate rating.
YONEX VCORE Series racquet’s most predominant feature is its isometric technology. Compared to the conventional round frame, the isometric design increases the sweet spot by 7% by making the top of the frame flatter (see Figure 1). Enlarging the sweet spot is appealing for tennis players because larger sweet spot delivers greater control for players without sacrificing power.
However, even this series’ isometric technology improves players’ performance, I did not see much effort in promoting sustainability, at least from the website. Compared to Wilson Naked Series’ paint-free racquet (check out my review on that!), we can clearly see how colourful this YONEX racquet is. As I mentioned in my Wilson Naked Series review, when a racquet is colourful, it is detrimental to the environment because the solvent-based paints or dyes may increase the number of carbon compounds released in the air, polluting the air, water and eco-system. I recommend YONEX, along with other tennis racquet manufacturers, to look at Wilson’s Naked Series’ practice and try to learn from it.
Accordingly, I rate 0.5 planet for this section.
In my previous review on Wilson Naked Series, I have briefly talked about how a tennis racquet is made. I will briefly reiterate the content. Basically, a tennis racquet consists of the body and the string.
In terms of the main body, tennis racquets in general are not made of eco-friendly materials. They are made from aluminum and other alloys like silicon, magnesium, copper and zinc, varying from one and another. Another Sustainability Analyst – Zachary Moss – has also discussed the manufacturing process of a tennis racquet in his review about Babolat Pure Aero Racquet – check it out on the VOIZ reviews page!
In terms of the racquet strings, they are made of eco-unfriendly nylon, gut, or synthetic gut for the strings, and leather or synthetic material for the handle grip.
Therefore, it seems that it is inevitable to use eco-unfriendly materials in the manufacturing process of tennis racquets, but this is subject to the current limited technology. If scientists can find eco-friendly substitutes for nylon, aluminum etc. that may have the same effect for players, then we can expect a more sustainable sporting goods industry.
To sum up, I will rate 0.5 planet to this section, which is lower than the 1 planet I gave to Wilson Naked Series, because I did not see YONEX’s clear action in manufacturing its racquets more sustainably – what has claimed in YONEX’s website is rather generic. In contrast, Wilson has removed all the eco-unfriendly dye and paints on the Naked Series racquet, which is clearly observable.
YONEX website’s headline includes the section ‘sustainability’, at least demonstrating its attention to this area. Under the sustainability section, YONEX focuses on two main parts – environmental and social. I will focus on discussing the environmental practices in this review.
On the environmental side, YONEX has claimed to make a variety of efforts to reduce burden on environment. First, it has been certified with ISO14001 Environmental Management which ensured that the required environmental-related standards are being met and maintained.
Second, YONEX says “it promotes paperless practices by digitalizing approval request forms, meeting memos and other company documents.” I found this line rather weak because becoming paperless seems to be the practice that most of the firms are trying to achieve nowadays. Also, this paperless practice is not implemented in the racquet delivery stage as there is still a head card attached to the racquet. By contrast, as demonstrated in my review on Wilson Naked Series, its racquet goes without the head card which saves lots of paper. Nonetheless, I can empathize with the racquet manufacturers that it is visually powerful and more appealing to potential customer if the racquet is attached with a head card with Roger Federer’s face. But it comes at cost of our planet.
Third, YONEX promotes recycling by separating waste and recyclable materials such as cardboard boxes and scrap metal generated from business activities. More interestingly, YONEX promotes the use of second-hand or excess materials such as used strings and scrap pieces of carbon sheets from the manufacturing process. For example, YONEX has collected used strings and then turn them into bracelets! Partnered with Nick Kyrgios’ (NK) foundation, YONEX sold the bracelets and donated the money to increase access and provide sport facilities to underprivileged and disadvantaged youths. This is such an amazing idea which I think all the brands should try to use similar ideas! However, this only happens during the Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. I really think this idea should be adopted in a larger scale – probably by most of the tournaments during the season.
Overall, I think YONEX website’s information regarding its sustainability practice is rather generic, but there are certain practices that I found innovative which should be promoted to a greater scale such as selling used-string-made-bracelet to support the underprivileged youths. I will rate this section 1.5 planets accordingly and I recommend a more in-depth research about YONEX’s sustainability level in order to provide a more accurate and fair rating.
Andrew Huang’s (myself) review on Wilson’s Naked Series – https://www.voizreviews.com/review/wilson-naked-series-tennis-racquet
YONEX x NK Foundation: Tennis Strings to Bracelets - https://www.yonex.com/news/tennis/yonex-partners-with-nick-kyrgios-nk-foundation/
YONEX VCORE Series - http://www.yonex.co.uk/sports/tennis/products/tennis/racquets/vcore-pro/vcore-pro-97-hd/
YONEX Environmental Initiatives - https://www.yonex.co.jp/company/en/esg/environmental_initiatives/
Zachary Moss’s review on 2019 Babolat Pure Aero Racquet - https://www.voizreviews.com/review/2019-babolat-pure-aero-racquet