When it comes to recycling traditional packaging materials, such as cardboard boxes and packing paper, the process is often a no-brainer. These items can almost always be recycled according to local guidelines in many curbside recycling programs. But what about packing tape? Can packing tape be recycled? The short answer is that it depends on the type of tape. In this article, we’ll explore in-depth answers to these questions to help you and your customers practice environmentally-friendly recycling habits that advance your sustainability efforts – while being gentle on Mother Earth.
Packing tape that you can recycle
While most packing tapes are not recyclable, such as polypropylene and PVC tape, there is one option that is: paper packing tape. Also known as “Kraft” tape, paper tape is an eco-friendly and water-activated packaging material that is sustainably produced and free of petroleum. Both the paper and the water-based adhesive are recyclable, making it easy to recycle paper tape right along with your shipping boxes and other recyclable packaging materials.
If your company is looking to “go green,” consider these earth-friendly advantages of paper tape:
- 100% recyclable, including the water-based adhesive
- No need to remove it before recycling your boxes
- Bonds securely to new or recycled cardboard, including dirty or dusty surfaces
Even with its inherent environmental benefits, water-activated paper tape does have its downsides to consider before going with this option. For starters, it must be used in conjunction with a desktop paper tape dispenser that uses a built-in water brush to moisten the tape and trigger its strong adhesive. As opposed to portable handheld tape dispensers for other packing tapes, this dispenser stays put. So, you’ll need to bring the packaging to the dispenser rather than the dispenser to the packaging. Additionally, some customers find that the ultra-sticky adhesive can be somewhat cumbersome.
Beyond its recyclability, many companies love paper tape for ingrained fiberglass threads that form a permanent bond that enhances security. It’s the ideal eco-friendly solution that works well for soft goods and sealing heavy or overfilled containers. And its odor-free properties make it suitable for pharmaceuticals and food products.
What to do with packing tape that cannot be recycled:
If paper tape isn’t the right choice for you, consider other options such as polypropylene and PVC. These tapes are widely used in many different applications. And while they aren’t recyclable, you can still recycle the boxes the tape has sealed. In most cases, you don’t need to remove the tape before recycling because it usually falls away naturally when the cardboard is soaked and reduced to a pulp during the recycling process.
However, there are a couple of exceptions:
- Too much packing tape – Excessive amounts of plastic packing tape can get snagged in recycling machines. In these cases, it’s best to strip polypropylene or PVC tape before tossing your boxes in the recycling bin.
- Municipality removal requirements – Some municipalities and trash haulers require you to remove plastic packing tape before recycling boxes. Be sure to check with your local guidelines to determine the appropriate recycling standards.
Recyclability resources to check out
Because the packing tape recycling advice in this article is intended as a guideline, it’s best to get in touch with your local municipality to learn more about recycling in your area. For even more insights on environmentally-friendly practices for business, explore the following national and state resources:
- US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)
- Keep America Beautiful (KAB)
- National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA)
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Whether it’s recyclability, strong adhesion, or something else, your goals matter to us. Let us help you determine the best custom packing tape for your needs. Contact our sales and design professionals, and let’s get rolling!