Can Plastic Box Sealing Tapes Be Eco-Friendly?
From a sustainable packaging perspective, when you manufacture a packaging product made from plastic, you come to market with two – or maybe three – strikes against you.
Still, polypropylene box sealing tapes continue to be popular, even if shippers are buying them reluctantly. Here are some key points from an article from the Pressure Sensitive Tape Council that makes the environmental case for its products.
Source reduction – It takes less plastic tape material than paper tape material to seal a box, reducing shipping and disposal/recycling costs.
Life cycle – More energy is required and more pollution generated in the manufacture of paper versus plastic. Plastic tapes take up less space in landfills than the paper tape equivalent.
Recyclability – Plastic tapes do not interfere with or add cost to the corrugated recycling process.
Reusability – Plastic tape can be removed from the corrugated box without extreme delamination. As a result, such boxes can be reused more readily and more frequently than boxes sealed with paper tapes, staples, or hot melt adhesives.
Our View on Source Reduction
I’ll restrict my commentary to my area of expertise – packaging applications. On the issue of source reduction, we have to be careful to separate theory from practice.
In theory, it is true that corrugated boxes can be effectively sealed with a smaller mass of plastic box sealing tape than paper box sealing tape. In practice, however, people tend to overuse plastic tapes because they are perceived as flimsy and/or they cannot lay down the tape evenly across the box flaps with one strip. Using automatic case sealers is the only way to effectively control the amount of tape being applied to the corrugated box. While a good option, automation is only cost effective in high volume operations with suitable material flow patterns.
Users of plastic tape should be confident in the strength of the material. In fact, tapes have become progressively thinner and stronger over the years, thanks to technical innovations with respect to adhesives and backings. By selecting a high quality tape, you will be introducing a minimal amount of material into the waste stream.