Sustainable Packaging

Packing Tape

How To Make The Switch From Plastic To Paper Tape?

How To Make The Switch From Plastic To Paper Tape?

Paper Tape - How to make the switch

By: Stefan Christie

7 Minute Read

Over the past decade, consumers have become increasingly eco-aware. In fact 70% of consumers prefer to buy from a brand that is demonstrating sustainable behaviours. Many large e-commerce companies such as Amazon have already made the switch to the fully biodegradable and recyclable paper tape to secure their boxes for transport. 

In this quick guide we’ll give you some tips on making the switch to the eco-friendly paper tape to help reduce your carbon emissions, plastic, and make it easier for the end user to recycle.

Why are businesses choosing to use the paper tape?

  • RECYCLING – It all comes down the eco-friendliness of the product. Plastic tape cannot be recycled when it’s attached to a cardboard box, meaning a large number of cardboard boxes end up goingRecycle logo and image - Sustabio to landfill rather than being recycled. This is due to the plastic tape being too difficult to remove in the recycling plant, so the whole box just ends up being thrown into landfill rather than staying in the circular economy. By using a paper tape instead, it enables the whole package to be reprocessed and turned back into paperboard again.
  • THE ECO BRAND MESSAGE – Big and small brands alike are being forced to take sustainability more seriously by their clients. In January, a study was held which found that 72% of consumers consider sustainability in purchasing decisions. What does that mean? It means nearly 3/4 of all those buying products think about how eco-friendly a product is before buying it. Brands like Patagonia have placed a strong emphasis on being “green” right from the start, which has lead to consistent growth and preference over their competitors which have been accused of “green-washing” to try buy their eco-credibility with stopgap solutions. 
  • END OF LIFE – Everyone’s heard about the damage plastic waste is doing to our oceans, so now, more than ever, it’s time to consider – What is happening to your packaging when customers are finished with it? The paper on paper tape is 100% biodegradable and compostable, and in most cases the adhesive is too. A hot-melt or gummed paper tape can be composted in your own garden or put into your recycling bin along with the cardboard box. If you’re using a branded paper tape, the inks have to be taken into account. For a fully biodegradable product it’s important to choose a tape with water or vegetable-based inks. 
  • COST – Believe it or not, with paper tape being produced in larger volumes, costs are eventually coming down. The self-adhesive paper tape is still slightly higher than traditional tape, but gummed tape actually is more cost-effective. You would end up paying less for your tape per meter than the plastic alternative. 
  • CUSTOMISABLE – Paper tape is easy to print on. It’s like drawing on a pBranded Tape - Sustabioiece of paper. Adding a logo or brand name to the tape helps showcase your brand, so instead of branding a whole box you could just brand the tape, saving costs. 
  • QUICK, EASY TRANSITION – Compared to other eco-substitutes changing from plastic tape to paper tape is one of the easiest and fastest to implement.

Which type of paper tape should i use?

Self-Adhesive or Gummed?

If you have a smaller warehouse and no set packing area, the self-adhesive tape would be a better option due to it being far more versatile than gummed tape. On the other hand, if you have bigger warehouse with a set bench where all packing happens, gummed paper tape would be perfect due to the dispenser.

Gummed paper tape is a strong, cost-effective solution for many businesses. But. they do require a desk dispenser to use which cannot be carried around a warehouse like a standard tape gun

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each type, first up …

Self-Adhesive Paper Tape
  • Solvent Adhesive: If you’ve had problems with tape sticking, it’s most likely an acrylic adhesive, a solvent gives a far better adhesion and has a strength of 31 Newtons per cm. Sustainable Packaging - Paper Tape - The Eco Alternative
  • Hot Melt Adhesive – Biodegradable and providing a good performance, this type of adhesive is by far the most common in paper tapes. With a tensile strength of 135 Newtons per cm, this type of tape is a far superior paper tape and performs just as well as the well-known plastic tape
  • Reinforced Tape – Reinforced paper tape is a relatively new concept on self-adhesives. Companies like Raja Pack do offer this type of product, but the performance versus hot melt is not good enough to justify the higher price. 
Gummed Paper Tape:

Also known as water-activated tape.

  • Gummed Paper Tape

    Standard Strength – The bond between cardboard and tape is very strong, it almost becomes part of the box. The only downside is if the product is too heavy, it could burst or puncture the tape. 

  • Medium Reinforced Strength – This is known as the “poor man’s” reinforced tape! Enough reinforcement to stop it from ripping but keeping the price to a minimum to help eco-conscious brands be more eco-friendly. 
  • Heavily Reinforced Strength – If you purchase products from Amazon (most likely), you will have received a box wrapped in this type of tape. It’s difficult to remove, making it great for companies shipping heavy or high costing products. The tape is strong making it difficult to open, deterring thieves from opening the package. 
How To Get Started – Self-Adhesive Tape
  1. Core Size – If you already have tape dispensers, measure the core size. It should either be 50mm, or 75mm. Most common brands use a 75mm but tapes like Denva or E-Tape have a 50mm core. Usually a tape with a 50mm core hold twice as much tape as those on 75mm hence the price difference. 
  2. Sample – Most packaging companies will allow you to test out the paper tape before you go ahead with an order. P.s. Sustabio can give you a free sample of the paper tape to test out within a day or two. Other companies like Raja Pack or Kite Packaging may ask you to purchase a 36 pack instead so be sure to check with your supplier first. 
  3. Strength Test – Ounce you’v got a sample you can test it out. Try it in the most extreme situation you’ll use it for. Try a few test orders by sealing them with paper tape and gather customer feedback on it. If it’s strong enough for what you’re using it for then all is well, if not, you may be better off trying some gummed paper tape. 
  4. Trial Shipment – As mentioned before, a trial shipment is always worthwhile to ensure the tape is strong enough for you. Send your heaviest product sealed with paper tape and monitor how it arrives at its destination.
How To Get Started – Gummed Paper Tape
  1. Demonstration – If you haven’t used gummed tape before, we recommend you arranging with your supplier for a demonstration first, so you can understand how the dispenser works and which is best for your business. Most packaging companies will happily come along to your warehouse and show you. 
  2. Trial and Test – As with any new implementation, a thorough test is necessary. Try the tape on a few of your products, trial different strength tapes. It will help you decide whether to go with gummed tape or self-adhesive. 
  3. Layout optimisation – Your packaging supplier will be able to advise the best practical position for the dispenser. There may be need for a reshuffle in your packing area or bench to make it the most efficient process. The dispenser can then be set to the desired length you need, increasing efficiency and saving resource and time. 

How long does it take to make the transition to paper tape?

1-4 weeks paper tape researchThis depends on how much you already know about paper tape. The first thing you need to do is research. There’s no point jumping into something that isn’t for you. Look into the different options, ask for some samples, speak to potential suppliers about the different types. We’d say this takes between 1-4 weeks depending on your location and the supplier you’re talking to. 

Next is testing. Test. Test. Test. You want the transition to paper tape to be smooth and no teething issues.1-2 weeks paper tape testing Run a test for at least a fortnight, then you know which paper tape will be best for you. So that’s 2 weeks.

1-5 weeks paper tape productionThen the order. Production usually takes 2-3 days for an unbranded tape, but adding a logo tends to take around 3-5 weeks to produce then a week delivery on top. 

So overall, that’s 6 weeks minimum for branded tape, and 5 weeks min if you go for an unbranded option. This is just a rough time frame, and most of the time it’s far shorter than this. But it’s always best to check with your packaging supplier on lead times before ordering. 

Concluding …

To summarise quickly, making the switch to eco-friendly paper tape, then it would greatly benefit your brand and help ensure your packaging gets put back into the circular economy. Plus it will show consumers you’re doing your bit for the environment. 

At Sustabio we are happy to help out with any questions you may have around paper tape and how to get started. If you’d like any further info or want to see how your logo could look on paper tape let us know, our internal design team can have one drawn up in minutes. 



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Becoming eco-friendly is imperative in today’s world. With 72% choosing sustainable brands, retailers need to do their bit to protect the planet to bolster customer loyalty. The Sustabio mission is to help those brands reduce their environmental impact quickly and easily.

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