Sustainable Packaging

Packing Tape

The Cost Of Paper Tape vs Plastic Tape

The Cost Of Paper Tape vs Plastic Tape

Paper Tape – Not too well known in the world of eCommerce, but it’s becoming more common as we speak.


Because of its eco features. “Sustainability” is the keyword wherever you go, from government, to business, to individuals, everywhere. Sustainability.

But what we really want to discuss is …

Which is more expensive, paper tape or plastic tape?

Let’s start at the beginning …

The plastic tax, yes that tax that’s been introduced in April 2022. It’s led to thousands of companies setting goals to cut plastic use, protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. 

Most companies have started to make the change, starting small. A lot starting with their packaging. 

Switching to a sustainable alternative can have a massive impact on your eco-conscious customers. Even something simple, like switching plastic tape, for paper tape. 

Let’s look a bit further into paper tape

What’s good about paper tape?

Paper tape is known for its sustainable features, being able to be recycled whilst attached to a carton, being made from renewable resources etc. But, not all paper tape is sustainable, so make sure you check with your supplier before purchasing!

Amazon are a huge user of paper tape. If you’ve received a parcel from them in the last year, you would have noticed the paper tape, this is gummed paper tape.

As with all initiatives to switch to a different product, price is going to vary, but why?

Paper Tape Vs Plastic Tape

OK, let’s get down to business, the real reason your reading this guide. Let’s run through a few points of what affects the pricing of tape.

1. Raw Materials.

Paper tape vs plastic tape.

1. Raw Materials.

Eco tape is made from a kraft paper by turning wood into pulp, then pressure cooking it in a mixture of chemicals. As you are probably well aware, with the current situation between Ukraine and Russia, it has caused a shortage of wood. Thus causing a shortage of paper, which is predicted to come in around the end of 2023,

Obviously, with shortages, come price increases. It’s predicted paper prices will be increasing, therefore it could in turn cause volatility within the pricing of paper tape. Although, there’s a way around this. Costs can be kept to a minimum by pre-ordering larger quantities to secure bulk rates. 

Or you can even set up a working relationship with your supplier by signing a stock-holding agreement keeping prices consistent for a longer period of time. (This means your supplier holds the stock on your behalf up to 6 months based on your initial forecast. Then at the end of 6 months you’d be invoiced for any remaining stock)

The solvent on paper tape is a natural rubber bonding adhesive. This is produced by dissolving a natural rubber in an organic solvent (examples of the solvent include toluene, hexane, or heptane). Then dissolved in a compound additive (tackifier) to soften it. These chemicals are still required in the process to make unnatural solvent for tape, so it’s unlikely to be a noticeable rise in the costs associated with this process.

2. Location

Location. Location. Location.

Location always influences prices. If a manufacturing plant is based in a lower paying country, the cost will be lower. Obviously.

Example: In Bangladesh the average wage is just under £120, whereas in the UK, it’s just under £2,200. So guess which ones is going to be able to offer a lower price!

Although, this doesn’t take into consideration the social impacts that low wages have on low-income families across the world. By choosing to use the lower priced options, the western world are inadvertently fueling the poverty gap. Plus, if anything happened, it could cost your company. Bad press and media exposure have been known to pick on companies using factories who pay their staff low wages.

Looking on the positive side of things, location also determines cost of shipping.

By choosing to source from local suppliers (e.g. UK suppliers and manufacturers), the freight cost savings will be huge. Especially with the rising container costs of between £12,000 & £20,000. 

In addition, the all important environmental costs. Long-distance transport for heavy packaging releases a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, which wouldn’t be helping you reach any environmental goals, and could damage your brands reputation.

3. Demand/Availability

With paper tape on the rise, demand is becoming higher. Like with everything, this could cause supply shortages and price increases. 

At the time of writing, stockholders in the UK aren’t able to deliver orders for approximately 2-4 weeks!

Lack of supply can force companies to source from a more expensive supplier, or damage your green reputation.

But, there’s a way out of it again. The stockholding agreement! Get that in place with your supplier and you can rest in the knowledge that your supply is safe for the agreed period of time! 

4. Production

-Unbranded Stock

Prices for plain paper tape stock is likely to stay consistent. Shelf life varies but can be up to one year. Production can be done to the most efficient way possible, enabling the benefit of greater economies of scale. Right from the sourcing of raw materials, to minimising machinery set-up time, transporting by the truckload.

-Bespoke Branded

Bespoke printed paper tape will always be more susceptible to price fluctuations.

The printing process adds a new level of interaction with the product. Involving additional labour and the use of inks. Both can drive up costs and create knock on effects such as shortages or delays.


In all production processes there is waste. 

The good thing with some paper tape is that it is almost all recyclable, so it is a circular production process. The cost of recycling the waste can cause pricing implications as manufacturers will look to build the costs of the waste into the price of the paper tape.

5. Costs to implement in your Business

-Hand Applied Tape Gun

The cost for tape guns which take the 72m core paper tape are around £12-£15 each. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended each packing desk to have at least 2 tape guns. Tape guns have the tendancy to disappear at the best of times!

Something to bare in mind is the size of tape core. The core size does vary, so new tape guns maybe required. 

If you are unsure, just drop a message and we will help you out.

-Machine Gummed Application

Pricing for gummed paper tape dispensers varies. Whether you choose a manual or automatic, the cost can be from £35 through to a £1750. 

Again it’s recommended each workstation has at least one machine. And it’s definitely worth the investment.

By purchasing dispensers through Sustabio we can come up with a bespoke costing to implement this solution within your business.

How will costs compare to Plastic Tape

So, the real question, how does the cost of paper tape compare to the cost of plastic tape. 

Self-adhesive paper tape can be anything from £2 to £7 with a full multi-colour print. Pricing usually varies on quantity ordered and number of colours printed. Roll length vary from 50m to 75m. 

Gummed paper tape costs between £2 and £10 per roll and includes a reinforced option for extra strength. These can also be printed to add your own branding. They are usually 100m or 200m, but there is options for longer lengths.

Plastic tape is the obvious cheaper option from around £1.50 to £6.00/tape.

Wrapping up

Although this quick post may seem a little daunting if you are looking at going plastic free. It may seem plastic tape is the only option due to costs. 

But don’t get us wrong, paper tape is a great solution. 

Gummed paper tape is actually more cost effective, it’s far stronger than plastic, meaning you need far less on your package. Hence the reason big companies like Aldi and Amazon are using it!

And just remember, costs are varying all the time, plastic tape costs could increase, paper tape costs could decrease. Who knows.

But one thing is for certain, we are always going to need some type of tape to seal our packages, and with the way this world is going, a sustainable alternative is a must!

If you are considering going plastic-free, drop us a message, call or visit us. Our in-house friendly staff are always up for helping anyone out.


One Comment


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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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