From Celluloid to Plastic Balls
In 2011, ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) decided that with effect from July 1, 2014, all ITTF events would only use table tennis balls made from plastic. This is a major change and one which has caused a great deal of anxiety in the lower ranks of the sport.
ITTF have said that the primary issue is with the manufacturing process used to make the current celluloid balls. The raw materials are considered hazardous to health and many countries no longer allow manufacturers to use them, so the ITTF is hoping that by changing to balls made of plastic, that they will avoid any future shortage of balls (due to shortages of the raw materials required to make celluloid balls).
The new plastic balls will be known as "Poly" balls and will be mandatory for all ITTF events from July, 1, 2014 and on. However, the ITTF have said that celluloid balls will continue to be "legal" for all other events for at least two more years, and possibly longer.