Adhesive Tape

Self-Adhesive Kraft Paper Tape vs Gummed Paper Tape

6 mins

Packaging tape plays an important role when it comes to sealing your parcels ready for shipping. Now with the move away from plastic, many businesses are switching to paper tapes due to them being more eco-friendly and cost-effective.

But how can you ensure you are choosing the right tape for your business? In this article we explore Self-Adhesive Kraft Paper Tape vs Gummed Paper Tape, including the advantages and disadvantages for each one so you can make the right decision.

Self-Adhesive Paper Tape

Self-Adhesive Paper Tapes are made with a polymer-based release coating that is applied on the top layer of the kraft paper, along with a hot melt adhesive applied to the bottom layer.

The known benefits of Self-Adhesive Paper Tape are:

  • Plastic reduction: by switching to Self-Adhesive Paper Tape, you will reduce the amount of plastic in your supply chain.
  • Tape use is reduced: for every 2-3 strips of plastic packaging tape, you will only need 1 strip of self-adhesive paper tape as it’s stronger and more durable. Due to the fact you will be using much less tape, this also means sealing costs are reduced.
  • Printing: self-adhesive paper tape can be printed on and so it will improve your packaging’s appearance and enhance the customer experience.

While Self-Adhesive Paper Tape is known to be more cost-effective than gummed paper tape, it is in fact not as environmentally friendly as it’s often advertised, and businesses fail to mention the release coating and hot melt glues side effects in which it is made from. This is because like plastic tapes, Self-Adhesive Paper Tape is made with synthetic adhesives that are not recyclable. However as it's less than 10% of the overall weight, it's still kerbside recyclable. The release coating is made with either Linear-Low-Density-Polyethylene or Silicone for winding the roll to ensure the hot melt adhesive does not stick to the paper. This coating that is used is what gives the tape its shine. However, because it is made of plastic, this means it is very difficult to recycle.

As for the hot melt adhesive, the primary polymers used in hot melts are ethylene-vinyl acetate or ethylene n-butyl acrylate, styrene block copolymers, polyethylene, polyolefins, ethylene-methyl acrylate, and polyamides and polyesters. This means that Self-Adhesive Paper Tape is a thermoplastic material that is made of additives, stabilizers and pigments that are also used in plastic tapes. So, what does this mean? Well, this shows that just because a tape is made from paper, does not mean the adhesives are any better for the environment.

It’s also important to note that this type of paper tape is more prone to pilferage and the bond it offers is not as good as that of a water activated tape.

self-adhesive tape

Gummed Paper Tape (Water-Activated Tape)

Gummed Paper Tapes are the only tapes available that are known to be 100% recyclable, re-pulpable and therefore environmentally friendly. This is because the adhesive coated on the kraft paper tape is a vegetable glue made from potato starch which is completely soluble in water. There are also no solvents used in its manufacture and the gum breaks down in recycling processes.

The benefits of Gummed Paper Tape include:

  • Improved productivity: Research has shown there is a 20% increase in packer productivity when using Water-Activated Tape and a Paper Tape dispenser.
  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable: Gummed Paper Tape is 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable as it is made from natural, renewable, and recyclable adhesives.
  • Cost-effective: compared to other tapes on the market, they have a better value for money.
  • Temperature conditions: Gummed Paper Tape is resistant even to extreme temperatures.
  • Greater strength: Gummed Paper Tape is built for strength and offers a greater bond that can hold for long durations.
  • Good for printing: Gummed Paper Tape can also be printed on to give guidance on how a package should be handled, or to provide cautions like the example below.

The downside to Gummed Paper Tape is the fact that the fibres used have a time limit and can only be recycled so many times. Also, while most water-activated gummed paper tapes biodegrade much more quickly than other types of tape and can be recycled completely, this is not the case for the water-activated reinforced tapes.

This is because this type of water-activated tape contains a fiberglass mesh that cannot be recycled and will take decades for the earth to break down. The problem is as well, is the UK recycling facilities are not equipped to break down the fiberglass so it’s very difficult to do. Reinforced Gummed Paper Tape is made by combining two or more layers of kraft paper with glass fiber reinforcement filaments which is what makes the tape much stronger to seal heavy packets.

So, to summarise, if you are looking for a paper tape that will work for sealing heavier packages, then the reinforced tape may be the best option for you. However, if you are looking for an eco-friendly packaging tape - avoid reinforced tapes.

Self-Adhesive Paper Tape vs Gummed Paper Tape

Generally, Gummed Paper Tape is much better than self-adhesive paper tape as it has a greater strength so that it becomes one with the carton. Whereas Self-Adhesive Paper Tape can be pulled up and put down more easily so you will not know if it has been tampered with. Not only that but due to water-activated tapes (non-reinforced!) being eco-friendly and biodegradable, they tend to be more effective and better value for money than other tapes.

Below we have provided a table to clearly show each tape and their differences.

Conditions Water-activated Tapes (Gummed Paper Tape) Self-Adhesive Paper Tapes
Adhesive Contains starch-based adhesives such as potato starch Contains polymer-based coating and hot-melt glue adhesive
Activation As the name suggests, needs water to activate Pressure-sensitive activation
Strength Very strong and offers an unmatched bond Has a lower peel strength so the bond is not as strong as gummed paper tape
Pilferage Anti-pilferage, long lasting and highly secure Weaker bond means it can be tampered with and pilfered
Duration Can hold for long durations Can hold for shorter durations
Temperature Conditions Resistant to extreme temperatures Impacted by extreme temperatures and dust
Sustainability 100% biodegradable Adhesive is not recyclable, but as it's less than 10% of the overall weight of the product, the tape is still kerbside recyclable

Self- Adhesive and Gummed Paper Tapes from Swiftpak

At Swiftpak, we supply an extensive range of high-quality adhesive tapes that guarantee best performance for your packaging operation, including Gummed Paper Tapes and Self-Adhesive Paper Tapes.

If you’d like to know more about our tape variety or need help deciding which type of tape is best for your operations, then feel free to contact our packaging experts today!

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