Moscow, 1 October 2019. The new 2019/2020 season opening game of the regular VTB United League Championship between Khimki (Moscow Region) and Zielona Góra (Poland) made it into history as the first ever basketball game played with an eco ball created from recycled plastic by SIBUR in partnership with Wilson. The ball passed a series of stringent tests and was certified by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
The eco ball contains recycled plastic. Its inside is made of a composite material obtained from plastic bottles that were processed with advanced technology. The total weight of the plastic used to create the Cushion Core Technology, a patented sponge-like ball carcass for maximum shock absorption, is equal to the the weight of 2.5 standard bottles.
The revolutionary Aqua Grip system keeps the ball surface dry and helps maintaining perfect ball control and avoiding ball loss (slipping out of the player’s hands) during the game. Rough grooves guarantee a tighter grip on the ball. The main panels and channels connecting them were glued together manually and made of an identical high-tech material, enabling better ball handling when dribbling or shooting. The ball is equally suited for both indoor and outdoor games.
The eco ball is used in the championship games as part of the environmental programme of the VTB United League, as was emphasized during the new season press conference held before the opening game. The event was attended by VTB United League Honorary President Sergey Ivanov, President Sergey Kushchenko and General Director Ilona Korstin.
“We are happy to unveil our new slogan for the season. It is ‘VTB United League, the first sports league to go green’. We are on trend with our environmental initiatives encouraged by Sergey Ivanov and supported by SIBUR several years ago. We inspire other sports – team sports, first and foremost, – to follow suit”, said Sergey Kushchenko.
The United League’s BASKETBOTTLE environmental initiative aimed at making people more environmentally conscious and cultivating a new waste management culture has already produced tangible results such as separate waste collection at the League’s arenas. The project involves 10 clubs with more than 15,000 kg of plastic collected and recycled over a two-year period.
In 2019, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) joined the initiative by launching BULLETBOTTLE, also supported by SIBUR. Currently, nine KHL clubs are taking part in the programme.
The high-profile St. Petersburg Open tennis tournament also featured separate waste collection arranged as part of the ACEBOTTLE initiative, with SIBUR acting as the official environmental partner of the tournament.
Sergey Ivanov, Honorary President of VTB United League, said: “We want to show that not only balls but many other things can be made from recycled plastic. What is even more important is the environmental culture and responsibility. The basketball players demonstrated that it is possible to send thousands of kilograms of plastic for recycling in one year, and, should all athletes start sorting their waste, hundreds of thousands will be available for recycling.”
Maxim Remchukov, Sustainable Development Director at SIBUR, said: “Joint projects like this one reflect the essence of a circular economy, and SIBUR is a direct contributor to the process. We expect our environmental initiatives to find support from across a variety of stakeholders, not just sports organisations, in the short term”.