Adhesive Tape

Complete guide to gummed paper tape (updated 2020)

9 mins

In recent years, the popularity of gummed paper tape has risen apparent to the debates surrounding paper vs plastic packaging. However, the tape has so much more to offer than just being an “environmentally friendly alternative” to plastic tapes.

In this article, we’ll be explaining the benefits of gummed paper tape, as well as helping you decide which tape dispenser is best suited to your packaging operation. Many businesses have adopted gummed paper tape into their packaging operations already. And who knows, maybe you’ll decide to jump on the bandwagon as well.

Initially, people find it hard to consider making the the switch from plastic based tapes to gummed paper tape, purely because plastic tape is less expensive to buy. But if you look at the bigger picture, the number of benefits that gummed paper tape has to offer can be well worth the extra penny and save you money in the long run.

What is gummed paper tape?

Don’t tell me you are surprised at this heading? This is a complete guide, what were you expecting to see?

Gummed paper tape is an adhesive tape made from natural resources such as paper or potato starch. It has a natural glue adhesive which becomes sticky when moistened upon application, meaning it’s fully recyclable.

Enough about what gummed paper tape is, let’s dive right into what makes this tape so popular.

gummed paper tape

Reinforced gummed paper tape

For some extra added strength, reinforced gummed paper tape is perfect. The cross-woven fibre glass addition between an extra layer of Kraft paper makes the reinforced gummed paper tape incredibly strong. If your products are extremely valuable, we’d recommend reinforced gummed paper tape over the non-reinforced version. Although you’ll be paying a little extra for the premium strength, it’ll give you peace of mind knowing your products have the very best chance at arriving without being tampered/opened.

The benefits of gummed paper tape

1. Strength

As mentioned above, the natural glue adhesive is moistened upon application, creating a complete bond with the carton. This is because the water-activated adhesives penetrate into the liner of the carton, so the tape becomes part of the box. An impressive seal by our standards!

2. Tamper-evident

Being able to make packages tamper-evident is very useful, especially when valuable products

are thrown into the equation. When gummed paper tape is applied to the carton, a permanent bond is created. This means in an attempt to separate the tape from the carton, the carton becomes damaged showing evidence of tempering. Below is our attempt to separate the tape from the carton, which we obviously failed to do without leaving a trace...tamper evident tape

Tamper-evident tapes are particularly popular in the automotive and electronics industry (mainly because of the high value of the products).Gummed paper tape can not only be used as evidence that your package has been tampered with, but as a deterrent to people who may be tempted in opening your package throughout the delivery process.


Due to the weight of most automotive parts, shipping to customers in a safe and secure manner can be a challenge. But becomes a lot easier when reinforced gummed paper tape is involved. With the extra added strength that the reinforced version supplies, engines, hubcaps, transmissions and other automotive parts can be transported worry free.


With most electronic products, you’ll find they are highly valuable (especially for their sizes!). Think of the latest iPhone – over £1,000 worth of product at the size of someone’s hand. No wonder they are at the top of a thieves list. As soon as they realise the tape is ripping away with the box, we’re sure they’ll think again.

Read more about protecting your products against theft with tamper-evident solutions here.

3. Cost-effective

Gummed paper tape is a cost-effective method of sealing your cartons. Where the tape creates a permanent bond with the carton, only one strip is needed for a safe and secure seal. Unlike other commonly used tapes, one strip is rarely enough to seal a carton with confidence that it’ll stay closed.

4. Eco-friendly

Being made from renewable natural resources means that gummed paper tape is 100% recyclable. Many companies that use gummed paper tape find it boosts green credibility with customers as well as helping towards keeping the environment green. Win, Win!

recyclable tape

5. Temperature-tolerant

Many people that have worked with plastic tapes will understand that varying temperatures can have a drastic effect on the quality of the tape seal. We understand that this can be frustrating. A lose seal can also result in the opening of a box, giving people the opportunity to steal without a trace. Therefore, another reason why we recommend using gummed paper tape is because of its incredible durability and ability to withstand varying temperatures (both hot and cold). It doesn’t stop there, gummed paper tape can also perform fantastically in dusty or dirty environments. There isn’t much that can hinder this tapes performance is there?

6. Presentation

Aside from the more obvious benefits, the overall look that gummed paper tape has to offer is far more appealing than most of the alternatives out there - and presentation shouldn’t be overlooked. The single strip of gummed paper tape is a natural brown colour (like the cardboard) creating a cleaner look as well as a more enjoyable unboxing experience. We all know how important the unboxing experience is.

7. Customisable

A bonus that gummed paper tape has to offer is the ability to print a logo or message on to the tape. This enhances your brands recognition and adds to the customers unboxing experience. You might be thinking “But I can just print my logo or message on plastic tape?” Yes, you can. But it’s expensive to do so and with plastic tapes typically needing more than one strip to seal a carton, it can appear sloppy and reverse a company’s branding efforts.

Manual vs electric gummed paper tape dispenser

This question isn’t a simple matter of which type of gummed paper tape dispenser is better than the other, because this wouldn’t be the case for all businesses. It’s more beneficial to consider which best meets your requirements as a business, and we’re going to help you decide which is best for your packaging operation.

Manual gummed paper tape dispenser

The cheaper option out of the two - a manual water-activated tape dispenser can come in a variety of different models. The most basic dispenser of them all requires the user to pull the tape over a wet surface and then rip to the desired length. Whereas, a more premium manual gummed paper tape dispenser can offer a better experience for the user and is excellent for low volume use. The premium manual gummed paper tape dispenser offers a seamless “pull-and-tear” experience due to the superior design.

Another thing to note is, a manual water-activated tape dispenser doesn’t require electricity and can therefore be used is positions where electricity isn’t available. These dispensers are definitely worth considering if transportability is important or electricity isn’t accessible for packaging stations.

Electric gummed paper tape dispenser

gummed paper tape dispenser

The electronic gummed paper tape dispenser cuts out most of the manual labour. With a variety of different features and benefits available, the electronic dispenser is very easy to use. The keys allow you to set the length you desire and with a press of the button, the tape is moistened and dispenses instantly for high productivity – perfect for demanding work environments. The dispensing of the perfect tape length means zero waste is produced, so even though the electric gummed paper tape dispenser starts at a higher price than the manual, you’ll be able to work quicker, with absolutely no waste. A great investment for any company with a moderate to busy packing rate.

Points to help you decide

There are a few things to consider when contemplating between a manual or electric water activated gummed paper tape dispenser.

  • If electricity isn’t available near the packing station, a manual dispenser could be the right choice for you.
  • How many cartons are you sealing per day? If you’re working in a demanding environment and sealing over 50 cartons a day, an electric tape dispenser is probably the way forward. You’ll appreciate the increase in productivity it offers as well as the ease it brings to the work.

It all comes down to which will be the most effective for your circumstance - if you’re still unsure on which gummed paper tape dispenser is the right option for your packaging operation, get in touch today. Our team of packaging experts will be able to advise on the optimal solution for you.

The alternative to gummed paper tape

Yes, gummed paper tape is a great product, and you've probably gathered that from the points above. However, there's one tiny drawback to using this solution - water. Because the tape requires water upon application to activate the adhesive, worktops can become wet and messy. To avoid the task of drying your work space, consider Reinforced self-adhesive paper machine tape. This tape shares all the advantages of gummed paper tape plus more! It can be used with all taping machines and doesn't require water to activate the adhesive. If this sounds like a tape you're interested in, contact us today, we're the UK's first supplier!

To wrap things up

If you’ve been looking for a tape to seal your cartons that won’t let you down, gummed paper tape is a great choice. With it being tamper-evident, strong, eco-friendly, temperature tolerant and customisable, we simply love this tape – and the reinforced version is even better.

If you have any questions about gummed paper tape, tamper-evident packaging or packaging in general. Get in touch today, our experts would love to help.

Download our FREE sustainable packaging guide

Download now