Can You Recycle Cardboard With Tape On It?

Recycling is an integral part of today’s world to protect our planet and reduce environmental pollution.

However, there is often confusion about whether cardboard with tape can be recycled. Cardboard boxes are ubiquitous and typically contain tape to seal and protect their contents.

While throwing the cardboard box away with its tape still attached may seem simple enough, recycling it can sometimes present challenges.

Tape left on the cardboard can cause major complications during recycling, contaminating the entire batch of recyclable material.

This has sparked a debate about whether it is better to remove the tape before recycling it or leave it on.

Implications Of Leaving Tape On Cardboard For Recycling

Leaving tape on cardboard during recycling can have a major impact on the environment and the recycling system.

Here are some potential consequences of not taking out tape from cardboard boxes before recycling:

Contamination Of The Material Stream

The adhesive on tape can mix with other materials and contaminate cardboard, decreasing its quality and marketability while potentially increasing costs associated with recycling.

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Equipment Damage

Tape can wrap around recycling equipment, leading to blockages and machine damage. This could result in increased downtime and maintenance expenses for the recycling facility.

Inefficient Sorting Process

The glue on tape can make separating cardboard from other materials difficult, reducing efficiency during sorting.

This could result in higher labor costs and decreased recycling output overall.

Reduced Quality

Cardboard with tape left on it can lower the quality of recycled products. The adhesive from the tape causes fibers in the cardboard to break down, leading to a lower-grade recycled item.

Increased Waste

Paper or cardboard with tape left on it may not be recyclable and will end up in the landfill, increasing waste generation and diminishing the environmental advantages of recycling.

Environmental Impact

Retaining tape on cardboard wastes resources and energy, as recycling contaminated cardboard may not be possible.

This increases landfill accumulation, contributing to environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Tips For Preparing Cardboard For Recycling

Preparing cardboard for recycling is an essential step in the recycling process. Here are some tips on how to prep cardboard for recycling:

Remove Tape And Labels

Before recycling cardboard, it is essential to remove all tape and labels to prevent contamination and maximize recycling efficiency.

Use a box cutter or scissors to carefully slice away these materials with precision.

Flatten Cardboard

Flattening cardboard helps conserve space and makes it easier to transport. Fold the cardboard along its natural creases or use a box cutter to create new ones if necessary.

Maintain Cardboard Dryness

Wet cardboard can significantly diminish the quality of recycled products and lead to contamination.

To keep your cardboard dry, store it in a covered area or use a plastic bag to protect it from moisture.

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Separate Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard, which features which features a wavy layer between two flat layers, should be separated from regular cardboard to ensure it can be recycled correctly.

Check Recycling Guidelines

Recycling guidelines may differ based on location and recycling facility. Be sure to check with your local recycling program to ensure you follow the correct procedures for prepping and recycling cardboard in your area.

Alternatives to Tape for Cardboard Packaging

Tape is commonly used for cardboard packaging but is not always necessary. Several alternative materials to tape can be utilized instead to secure cardboard boxes. Here are some possibilities:

Box Flap

The simplest way to secure a cardboard box is to use the flaps of the box itself. Fold these flaps inward and apply pressure to keep them securely closed.


Wrap twine or string around a cardboard box and secure its contents with a knot. This method works best for lightweight items.

Biodegradable Adhesive

Eco-friendly adhesive alternatives, such as plant-based glues, can be used instead of traditional tape.

These adhesives break down more rapidly in the environment and thus have a reduced environmental footprint.

Water-Activated Tape

Water-activated tape is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional tape. It is activated by water for strong and durable seals on heavier items.

Interlocking Flaps

Some cardboard boxes feature interlocking flaps that can be folded over each other to form a secure seal.

This option works best for boxes that won’t need to be opened and closed frequently.

Is It Possible To Recycle Cardboard That Has Tape And Staples On It?

Recycling cardboard requires certain guidelines. While recycling cardboard with labels, plastic windows, staples, and a little tape is generally accepted.

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Yes, it is possible to recycle cardboard that has tape and staples on it but the cardboard isn’t lined with plastic film, coated with wax, or embellishments like glitter, velvet, or foil.

However, it’s essential to remove the excess tape as this contaminates the recycling process and reduces the quality of the recycled product.

By properly prepping cardboard for recycling, we ensure efficient processing while helping reduce waste production while helping protect our environment at the same time.

Is It Possible To Recycle Paper That Has Adhesive On It?

Label recycling requires the removal of adhesive from paper pulp, which can be laborious and time-consuming.

Therefore, many recycling facilities advise individuals to remove labels before recycling. However, new technologies are emerging that aim to remove adhesives during recycling processes, potentially making it simpler to recycle paper products with adhesive in the future. In the meantime, it is advisable to be cautious and remove any labels or adhesives before recycling paper products.

Can The Paper Tape Found On Amazon Boxes Be Recycled?

Yes, the paper tape found on Amazon boxes can be recycled along with the cardboard box, as it is also 100% recyclable according to Amazon.

The company states that all parts of its cardboard packaging, including the black paper tape, are recyclable.

This means that the paper tape can also be recycled along with the cardboard box without causing any harm to the environment.

It is important to recycle packaging materials to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills and to promote sustainable living.



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