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Plastic Free July 14th: Parcel tape

Whatever you think of Amazon, they got one thing right until very recently. Most of the packaging they used was biodegradable: boxes, paper cushioning, and paper tape. (I’m not sure what the adhesive on the tape is, actually, but I digress.)

I’m cutting back massively on my use of Amazon for a few reasons, but mainly because they seem to be moving more towards plastic. In particular, they seem to be sending items in plastic jiffy bags sealed with plastic tape. (Their Amazon Pantry service is also a total disgrace for using massive amounts of plastic pillows.)

It’s the same when I buy items from distributors and warehouses: we get everything in card, but the outer boxes are usually sealed with plastic parcel tape.

Swapping Out Plastic Tape for Paper Tape

It took me a while to find a paper parcel tape that was compostable as well as being recyclable, but I finally located one via an eco packaging supplier.

The adhesive on this paper parcel tape is made from natural rubber, and the tape isn’t coated with anything, so you can put it in the recycling or the compost bin without fear of plastic or solvent contamination. You can also write on it.

For the type of parcels we send, I think it performs well. I don’t seem to have to use more of it, although it is fairly easy to tear, so I guess you might want to layer it a bit for heavy items. For sharp or valuable items, I’d probably look for reinforced paper tape (maybe that’ll be my next quest).

But for sealing small boxes, it looks neat and seems to stick well.

Even better: it’s self adhesive. When I was looking into parcel tape to sell, I found that the vast majority is gummed and needs to be moistened with water, which is pretty messy and inconvenient. I don’t believe in inconvenience: I think swaps need to be convenient to be valid, so I really wanted something that behaved like normal parcel tape.

If you find other paper tapes online, just check that (a) they aren’t packed in plastic (Paperchase packs every single roll of washi tape in an individual plastic wrapper – WHY?), and (b) that they have a sticky side made from something like rubber or vegetable starch and not glue. It’s quite difficult to find a self adhesive tape with a natural adhesive which is why I’m pleased to be able to wrap Smug deliveries in this.

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