Paper tape may be the best packaging tape
Acrylic packing tapes and water-activated kraft paper tapes (aka. WAT, kraft tape, gummed tape, paper tape) are the two most commonly used tapes for carton sealing. Which one is right for your packages? They both do the job, but water-activated paper tapes have 3 particular advantages for shipping packages.
Strength of paper tape
Water-activated paper tape gets its strength from the adhesive soaking into the fiberboard materials of the box. When using recycled boxes, this is the recommended tape due to its texture. To be clear, the adhesive only works when water is first applied to the back of the tape. Hence its name "water-activated".
The adhesive on water-activated paper tapes is made from a starch-based (most common) or animal-based adhesive. If you're shipping packages over 50 lbs, kraft paper tape with fiber-reinforcement will have the greatest strength! Heavy items are expensive to ship, so just don't risk them opening, use a fiber-reinforced tape!
Get a tamper resistant with paper tape
When water-activated kraft paper tape is properly moistened it fuses to the fiberboard materials within 1 to 3 minutes. A tamper resistant surface is created at this point. It is difficult to open and quick to recognize a damaged surface if someone were to attempt to open it.
For valuable packages using kraft paper tape with fiber-reinforcement will make it considerably more difficult for someone to punch/tear their way into the box. Fiber-reinforcement is also recommended for long packages which tend to be weaker in the center and have a high chance of opening during the tough shipping environment.
Paper tape is recyclable
Reusing a box that has had kraft paper tape on it is a great practice to reduce shipping waste, but loose tape needs to be removed prior to reuse. Kraft papers tapes are most notably advertised as eco-friendly/recyclable. This doesn't mean that locally you can't recycle boxes with acrylic tapes still applied either! Find your local recycling center using Earth911.
Kraft paper tape and fiber-reinforced kraft paper tape are both recyclable! During the recycling process the fiberglass strands are able to be removed from the paper component. Recycling centers have an advanced process to recover the greatest percentage of reusable materials. They are efficiently able to filter out acrylic tape, paper tape, fiberglass strands, shipping labels, staples, stickers and much more that is regularly found on used packages.
While all these additional components found on boxes can be filtered out, only paper based components are recycled. Metals, fiberglass, and acrylic tapes are removed from the process and properly disposed of. Don't fret if you're still using acrylic tapes the boxes are still recyclable, the materials are getting reused, and recycling centers dispose of additional components in a responsible manner.
Is paper tape right for your business?
If you're on the fence about continuing to use acrylic tapes or switching to kraft paper tapes here are my final thoughts:
- If using only biodegradable materials is the main part of your business brand/differentiator, then make the switch. Remember that fiber-reinforced tape, which is recommended for packages 50 lbs+ would not align with the business. Also stickers, shipping labels, bags, packing inserts and more need to also align with a 100% biodegradable mission.
- If you're shipping packaged under 50 lbs and want to delight the receiver with your business's fun packaging personality stick with acrylic tapes. They come in an amazing assortment of designs, affordable, and the box can still go through the recycling process!
YouTube: 3 Reasons the Pros use Paper Tape
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Pinterest Idea: @hotpawzpackingtape
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