Posted on July 17 2022
Paintball is an environmentally safe sport for a few different reasons. One main reason is that most paintballs are biodegradable. Most paintballs are made out of the same water-soluble ingredients which are the gelatin outer shell and the fill which is mainly composed of polyethylene glycol (PEG). These ingredients are crucial to making paintball an environmentally safe sport. Paintballs over time disappear without having to do anything!
The Outer Shell - Made of Gelatin
Paintballs are made of a gelatin shell which is a food grade material. Gelatin is a protein that is often derived from collagen taken from animal body parts like pigskin. It can be found in many different foods including Frosted Mini-Wheat cereal, gummy bears, Jell-O and more! Over the period of a few days, the gelatin shell degrades from normal environmental conditions including sun, rain, and more. The shell will go from being a hard outer shell to what almost resembles a bouncy ball. With time, this gelatin will decompose. Usually, the gelatin shell is the time determining factor in the degradation factor as it takes longer than the paintball fill to dissolve.
Paintball Fill, or the paint on the inside:
The "fill" of a paintball is the inside paint portion. The paint is usually composed of PEG, or polyethylene glycol, along with some sort of iodine food coloring. PEG is known to be a food grade, non-toxic material which is water soluble. Since it is water soluble, over a matter of time the paint dissolves when it rains outside.
How Long Does it Take for Paintballs to Biodegrade?
Usually it takes 2-3 weeks for paintballs to biodegrade. A large portion of the biodegradation process lies in the ability of the paint to dissolve with rain and be exposed to the outside air. Since all ingredients used with the paintball are water soluble, exposing them to outside environments are crucial to getting them to decompose. In a scenario where paintballs are being used indoors, such as at an indoor paintball field, the outer gelatin shell will not decompose nearly as quickly due to the lack of exposure to rain.
The ability of paintballs to biodegrade into the environment is very important. Imagine the consequences of plastic paintball shells that did not biodegrade. Plastic shells would be scattered all over the ground which could possibly be consumed by wildlife which would wreak havoc on the health of animals exposed. It would also be a lot more maintenance for paintball field owners to get rid of non-degradable shells.
For the reasons mentioned above, the sport of paintball is very environmentally friendly. A game of paintball in the woods or even speedball, will most likely go unnoticed a few weeks after being played. Paintball markers used compressed air instead of an inert gas or some other gas that could have limitations or could have global warming effects. The ability for paintballs to biodegrade is a game changer as it makes the game of paintball untraceable after a few weeks after play.