Can You Recycle Paper Tape?

Can You Recycle Paper Tape?

I though I’d take a little time to answer the question, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’ It seems like a simple enough question, but the answer might surprise you…

You might have noticed that there is a growing trend for using paper tape, rather than the more common plastic tapes. I myself offer a range of paper tapes, which are, in theory, totally recyclable.

However, as with so many other eco-friendly products, the question of whether these tapes are actually recycled, is somewhat of a sticky issue…see what I did there? (I’m so sorry! haha)

This is because, despite paper tape having the potential to be 100% recyclable, most commercial recycling processes haven’t quite caught up with that potential yet. The recycling industry is a developing field, and while we might want (and need) the speed of a revolution; in truth, the process generally moves at more of an evolutionary pace.

Therefore, rather than, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’ The more apt question might be, ‘will my paper tape be recycled?’Recyclable paper tape on a gift wrapped present

Issues In The Commercial Recycling Process

Recycling facilities here in the UK have been developed with mechanical processes that separate sticky tape from paper and card. The paper products can then be recycled, while the plastic tapes are usually incinerated for energy recovery.

This process was put in place to counteract most people’s tendency not to bother removing plastic tapes, before placing paper items in the recycling. However, these separation processes were implemented before the growing popularity of paper tape emerged. Therefore, they were not designed to be able to distinguish between plastic tape and paper tape.removing plastic tape from a box

So, Will My Paper Tape Be Recycled Or Not?

Unfortunately, at present it is unlikely that the paper tape, which you place in your recycling, will actually get recycled. It will be reclaimed, along with the plastic tapes, to be most likely incinerated.

I understand that answer is probably disappointing, and might lead you to despondency. After all, what is the point of using paper tape if it won’t be recycled anyway? Well, I actually think there’s several good reasons to persevere!lots of rolls of paper tape on a wooden table.

Why Paper Tape Is Still The Best Choice

Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, recycling is very much a developing field. Commercial processes are evolving in order to improve the recyclability of as many products as possible. So, the more commonly used paper tape becomes, the more likely it is that recycling companies will develop machinery that can identify it. Once that happens, paper tapes will be left in the mix, with the rest of the paper and card, and will be recycled.

Secondly, even if for now, paper tapes are unlikely to be recycled, they are still a far more eco-friendly choice than their plastic counterparts. The incineration of natural, paper tapes produces less atmospheric pollution than that of plastic tapes. Paper tapes like mine are also biodegradable and compostable. This means that if they are placed in landfill, they will at least naturally biodegrade. Compare this to plastic tapes, which will sit in landfill for centuries.

Finally – and this one is important for me, as a gift wrap business – I think that paper tape is actually a superior product. It is much more durable than plastic tape, and adheres much more successfully to paper and card. This is especially true for the recycled stocks I offer in my shop. The only small gripe I have is that paper tape does tend to curl round on itself, when you’re cutting a long length. But, in my opinion, it is easy to accept that small issue, given all the other benefits.

Looking Ahead

I appreciate this has probably not been the answer you had hoped for – or possibly even expected – when I asked the question, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’

However, it is an open and honest answer, which also aims to reflect a high level of hope. Indeed, I anticipate being able to return to this post in the future, to update it with the news that paper tapes are being recycled.

The recycling industry is a growing, and innovative, field, with a heck of a big responsibility on its shoulders. The pace of change may be frustrating, but if we, as consumers, continue to make eco-friendly choices, then we push that change forward.

Take a look at my range of paper tapes, and see what you think.