Tape Recycling 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Do you have some old tape lying around? Wondering whether you can recycle it? Well, if you read on, we will tell you everything you need to know. Which, surprisingly, isn’t all that much.

The tape isn’t recyclable. Even though most of the materials in the tape are usually recyclable, the adhesive doesn’t allow the tape to be recycled. For cardboard boxes with tape, it usually isn’t enough to make a difference, so you don’t need to worry.

Recycling Tape

No tape isn’t recyclable. That’s probably the most straightforward answer that we can give.

The tape cannot be recycled at all. Yes. It is plastic (for the most part), but there will also be some chemicals in the video.

This makes tape hard to recycle as it becomes difficult to separate the plastic from the actual chemicals. The amount of energy it would take to separate the adhesives from the rest of the tape means it doesn’t make sense to recycle it with current technology.

The same will apply to cloth tape, which has many chemicals. It cannot be recycled. If you take it to a recycling center, you will be turned away with the tape.

Where to Recycle Your Tape

As the tape is a small and often easily overlooked item, it may not always be clear where it can be recycled. However, several options for recycling tape can help reduce its environmental impact.

One option is to check with your local recycling program to see if they accept tape for recycling. Many programs will accept tape and other paper products as long as it is clean and dry.

Another option is to bring your tape to a specialized recycling facility that specifically handles tape and other small household items. These facilities may recycle the tape to maximize its reuse and reduce waste.

Additionally, some manufacturers of tape and other adhesive products may offer recycling programs, so it is worth checking with them. By taking the time to research and utilize these recycling options, we can help ensure that tape is properly disposed of and keeps its environmental impact to a minimum.

Can Paper With Scotch Tape Be Recycled?

Paper that has Scotch tape on it cannot be recycled. The plastic and adhesives in the video can’t be broken down in regular paper recycling. Instead, remove the part of the paper with tape and throw it in the trash. The remaining paper can be recycled normally.

What Happens if There is Tape on Cardboard Boxes?

This is where we have a significant issue. Most cardboard boxes are going to have tape on them. So, does this mean that the cardboard box can no longer be recycled? Well, not necessarily.

The cardboard box can be recycled. However, the tape cannot. You may need to remove the tape from the package before sending it to recycling. Now, this is not going to be a requirement in all cases.

Some recycling centers will allow you to leave a small amount of tape on the box. However, if the package is completely covered, do your best to remove as much tape as possible.

Can You Recycle Tape

The recycling process will be able to move a small amount of tape. This is because the cardboard boxes will be soaked in water. This makes it easier for the recycling center to process the cardboard box. The tape will naturally peel off as the package is doused in water. However, this will only happen if there is just a tiny amount of tape on the box.

Even then, massive amounts of tape on a cardboard box can clog up the recycling machines. As a result, it really should be avoided.

You mustn’t remove the tape with water, though. If you soak your cardboard before you take it to the recycling center, it will be unrecyclable.

It doesn’t go through the machine at all. The only time it will get wet will be after the cardboard has been processed. If you go with damp cardboard, then you will be turned away.

If you take a cardboard box with too much tape to your local recycling center, they will reject it. After all, they aren’t spending time peeling the tape off it.

Is Masking Tape Plastic Free?

In general, masking tape is entirely plastic-free. It’s made up of two layers. The first layer is an easily tearable crepe paper, and the second layer is an adhesive that allows the tape to stick to surfaces without leaving behind a residue.

What Should You Do With The Tape?

You can’t do much with the tape other than throw it in your garbage can. We know that doing this is never going to be the preferable option. After all, it will end up in a landfill, and we all know how that will end up. However, there is little else that you can do when something cannot be recycled.

If you try to recycle as much as possible, then adding a bit of tape into your garbage can every so often is that much of an issue. At least you are doing your bit for the environment still. The real problem people will be those that are not recycling anything.

Recycling Gummed Paper Tape

As you may well know, something on the market is known as gummed tape. This is essentially paper tape with vegetable starch on it. When you use the tape, you will have to get the starch (the tape will come with a dispenser), giving it that sticky feel. Some will claim that it is better than normal packing tape.

So, can you recycle this?

The answer is probably not. The vegetable starch is tough to separate from the paper. It is incredibly sticky, and while not a chemical, most recycling centers will not have the facilities to do that. They will probably have a blanket ban on tape, so your gummed paper wouldn’t get through anyway.

That said, at least you can feel a little bit better about yourself if this ends up in a landfill. This is because everything about the gummed paper tape is 100% organic. This means that it will break down in the soil and won’t leak any of those awful chemicals that other tape products are known for.

If you have to choose the eco-friendly option, we recommend picking up some gummed paper tape. It is more expensive, but at least you know you won’t damage the environment when you use it, right?

Recycling Masking Tape

Sometimes. It is paper, after all. The adhesive will not be as intense as some other products, which means it can be recycled more easily. You can often put masking tape into the standard paper recycling.

However, you will have to look at the packaging of the masking tape to work this out. This is because many masking tapes are made from recycled paper. This means that it cannot be recycled again, so you will have no choice but to throw it in the trash. Thankfully, these products tend to be biodegradable, so it isn’t that much of an issue.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Tape

There are many alternatives to traditional tape that can be more eco-friendly in production and disposal. One such alternative is paper tape, which is made from recycled paper and can be easily recycled again after use.

Another option is hemp tape, made from a sustainable and renewable resource and biodegradable. Fabric tape is another eco-friendly alternative, as it is made from natural materials and can be easily torn by hand, eliminating the need for scissors or other cutting tools.

Lastly, biodegradable plastic tapes made from plant-based materials are more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-based plastic tapes. These eco-friendly alternatives to tape can help reduce reliance on single-use, non-renewable resources and minimize waste in landfills.


In summary, the tape cannot be recycled. About the only bit of tape that can be recycled will be masking tape, and even that will be dependent on the brand. If you are recycling a box, try to remove as much tape as possible from it first.

The most environmentally friendly types of tape are masking tape and gummed paper. These are made with primarily recycled products and are biodegradable for the most part, so they have a minimal impact in the long run.

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