Wondering if there’s an eco-friendly alternative to plastic packing tape? Well, let us be the first to tell you the good news that THERE ARE! Although it’s still scarcely sold in the market, we’re glad to confirm that there are several biodegradable packing options to choose from and we’re here to discuss them with you today! Whether you’re a small business or a big business, switching to these sustainable packing alternatives does wonders to the conservation of the environment.
The impact of Plastic Tape on the environment
The plastic free movement is growing and taking the limelight with more people rallying behind the switch to plastic-free swaps. Thankfully, businesses, consumers, and even government bodies are refusing plastic straws, plastic bags, and plastic cups today. However, there’s one sneaky plastic item that’s still dominantly used in our daily lives and that’s plastic tape. We use it in our offices when we pack our presents, products, or anything that needs patching or sticking. It is such a commonly used everyday item that it seems like it’s one plastic item that we will always need.
But what is a plastic tape made of, anyway?
Plastic tape is commonly made from polypropylene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This article defines Polypropylene as, “a thermoplastic “addition polymer” made from the combination of propylene monomers. It is used in a variety of applications to include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, special devices like living hinges, and textiles.” Polyvinyl chloride or PVC, on the other hand, is a versatile thermoplastic polymer and the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. It includes chlorine and is often made with lead stabilizers and plasticizers such as phthalates which makes it more environmentally toxic than polypropylene both during its product life and after disposal.
Plastic tape may seem like too much of a small plastic item to be concerned about but with its heavy usage, it does create an impact on our environment. Similar to other plastic products such as plastic cups and straws, they too release toxins into the environment.
The Good News in Packing Tape: Biodegradable Tapes!
Now, the purpose of this article isn’t to make us feel hopeless and feel bad about using plastic tape. Instead, we’re here to tell you that the good news is that there are in fact eco friendly alternatives to plastic tape that you can use! Now, there is an opportunity to make a sustainable swap that could be easily applied as part of your sustainable business practices. This is thanks to the people who really took the time to create and invent products that are functional but are gentler to the environment. But while eco friendly tapes are still new and scarce, here are the best biodegradable packing tapes that you can use in your business to replace plastic tape.
Kraft Paper Tape
First, let’s start with something familiar that you might have seen before - kraft paper tapes. Kraft paper tapes have a natural rubber-based adhesive system that makes an excellent bond to most packing products and surfaces. It is made out of paper which makes it 100% recyclable and compostable. It is a type of water-activated tape also known as gummed paper tape. The way it works is that kraft paper tape has a natural latex glue adhesive on a natural kraft paper backing which becomes sticky when moistened. Some kraft gummed tape can even be reversible by wetting it again.
Usage: Can be used on art projects, documents, repairing and reinforcing books, and as a carton sealing tape for packages
Maybe you’ve heard of the colorful Washi tapes before in your art class but did you know it’s one of the plant-based tapes in the market today? Similar to kraft paper, washi is a type of paper available in Japan. In this article by beeco.green explains that washi is often made using branches taken off trees, scrub, or other plants such as hemp which takes a shorter time to grow. It is usually made from the bark of mulberry, gampi, and mitsumata. The adhesive applied on washi tapes is also sustainable in such a way that it is made from rubber which can be sustainably harvested from rubber trees by tapping into them and collecting the liquid extruded.
Usage: Can be used for scrapbooking, decorating envelopes, gift or small product wrapping
Ever heard about a tape that dissolves in water? It’s real and it’s called water-soluble tape. Water-soluble tape is a paper-based material made of wood pulp and other compostable materials that ensures complete dissolution in 30 seconds or less.
Usage: Can be used for sealing water soluble pouches that have printed graphics and in water transfer printing applications and double dips
Biodegradable Tape: Cellulose Tape
Now, if you’re looking for clear tape that can be used for packing products, you’re in luck! Recently, a new type of eco friendly tape became available in the market that looks and functions the same as traditional plastic tape. Biodegradable tapes are made from plant-derived cellulose film with natural rubber adhesive. It is completely biobased made from trees sans chemical components. Due to this, they can naturally break down faster than non-biodegradable options. Research finds that uncoated cellulose film only takes 10 days to 1 month to degrade when buried. If it is coated with nitrocellulose, on the other hand, it will degrade for approximately 2 to 3 months.
Usage: Can be used in the office, school projects, and packing products
If you’re looking for an eco friendly biodegradable clear packing tape for your business, minliving recently launched its own minliving Biodegradable tape. It’s also made from plant-derived cellulose film with natural rubber adhesive that comes in 2 types of width - 0.75 inches and 1.93 inches. You can choose from minliving’s 3 biodegradable tape variations - 1.93in clear packing tape, 0.75in clear packing tape, and 1.93in with the word, “biodegradable” printed on the tape.