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As the human population grows ever larger, its needs grow at the same pace. In the past, we didn’t have to worry all that much about ruining the environment because our species just didn’t have the numbers to do so. Likewise, before modern technology came into being, we didn’t really have the means to destroy the earth anyway. Unfortunately, this situation has changed dramatically. It is now much more important to consider the impact of our choices on the environment.

With that sentiment in mind, let’s consider an aspect of renewable packaging that is often overlooked: The packaging tape. There are many options on the market, so let’s try to figure out which one is the most eco-friendly.

Stick With Paper And Cellulose

Right away, we see one big problem with most brands of packaging tape. Most of them are made with plastic-based materials, meaning that they are made from oil. This makes them a non-renewable resource and a poor choice for the environmentally conscious. However, there are plenty of tape products on the market which are biodegradable.

In case you don’t know, a biodegradable substance is one that will break down and return to the earth within a reasonable amount of time. That last part is relevant because everything will break down eventually, but there is a question of whether or not the timeframe will be fast enough. Even styrofoam will eventually biodegrade, but it will take centuries (possibly even millennia) for that to happen.

In most cases, you should stick with tape that is made from paper or cellulose. Both of these substances come from trees and are therefore a renewable resource. Both paper and cellulose tapes can be recycled along with the cardboard box to which they are attached. For those who make a regular habit of recycling cardboard boxes, this will also save a lot of time.

Best Types Of Eco-Friendly Tape

Let’s look at some specific types of packaging tape in greater detail. All of these products are good choices for the environmentally conscious.

Non-Reinforced Water-Activated Tape

Although it may not be the strongest tape around, non-reinforced water-activated tape is the most eco-friendly solution that you could want. It is literally just a strip of paper with a natural adhesive on one side. Water-activated tape requires a special dispenser, as it must be wetted evenly in order to work. Also, make sure you avoid the reinforced version of this product. It contains a fiberglass mesh that cannot be recycled and which will take eons for the earth to break down.

Because it requires water for activation, this sort of tape can be a little bit of an inconvenience. Still, it will biodegrade much more quickly than other types of tape and can be recycled completely. After reaching the landfill, this stuff will be gone in 2-6 weeks. As for cost, this kind of tape isn’t going to break the bank…but some of the fancy electronic dispensers might be too much.

Cellulose Tape

Cellulose, along with lignin, is one of the main chemical components of wood. Thus, although it may look like a petroleum-based plastic, this tape is completely made from trees. At the same time, this tape does take longer to break down in landfills than paper tape.

Cellulose tape is a great choice for those who need something stronger than non-reinforced water-activated tape. As long as it’s good and thick, this tape can theoretically be as strong as wood. This kind of tape might look like plastic, but it tears easily like paper. All in all, this is the most convenient eco-friendly option for those with more high-strength needs.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is one of the handiest types out there. It is primarily used when painting, to mask off the areas that are to be left alone. Because of this, masking tape isn’t all that strong. At first glance, this looks like paper tape, so you would probably assume it to be recyclable. However, this is not always the case.

Some masking tape products are made from recycled materials, and thus can not be recycled again. It is debatable as to whether or not such a product is eco-friendly. On the one hand, you are using a recycled product. On the other hand, you won’t be able to recycle it again. Either way, it’s a good idea to get the kind of masking tape that is recyclable. This kind of tape should be clearly marked with a recycling symbol.

Specialized Duct Tapes

Most duct tape is not biodegradable or eco-friendly, which might be a big disappointment for some of you. Duct tape is extremely popular because of its strength and versatility, but it isn’t a very eco-friendly solution at all. We would recommend that you look for specialty duct tapes that are meant to address this problem. The whole idea of “sustainable duct tape” is more than possible, but you will probably have to pay a little bit more.

General Evaluation Guide

We have tried to give you a few examples of eco-friendly tape, but there are plenty of other products out there. Since we do not have space or time to cover all of them, here is a list of general guidelines that can be used to determine if your tape is eco-friendly:

  • Look for tape that is biodegradable or compostable
  • Look for tape that is recyclable
  • Look for tape that uses non-toxic adhesives
  • Look for tape made from natural substances
  • Look for tape made with as little processing as possible


There is no need to get into a lot of science when looking for an eco-friendly tape. After all, our questions are pretty basic here. We want to know what the tape is made from and what will happen after we throw it away. We hope that we have given you a good idea of what to look for in sustainable packaging tape. If so, please fill out the contact form below.