Can You Recycle Tape? (Instructions for Masking Tape, Duct Tape and More!)

Can You Recycle Tape? (Instructions for Masking Tape, Duct Tape and More!)

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

Tape isn’t recyclable. Even though most of the materials in tape are usually recyclable, the adhesive doesn’t allow 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.

Can You Recycle Tape?

No tape isn’t recyclable. That’s probably the simplest 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 on the tape.

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

The same will apply to cloth tape, which also has a lot of chemicals on it. It simply cannot be recycled. If you take it to a recycling center, then you will be turned away with the tape.

Can Paper With Scotch Tape Be Recycled?
Paper that has Scotch tape on it cannot be recycled. The plastic and adhesives in the tape can’t be broken down in normal paper recycling. Instead, simply remove the part of the paper that has tape on it 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 major 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. This means that you may need to remove the tape from the box before you send it to recycling. Now, this is not going to be a requirement in all cases.

There are some recycling centers that will allow you to leave a small amount of tape on the box. However, if the box is completely covered, then do your best to remove as much tape as you possibly can.

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. As the box is doused in water, the tape will naturally peel off. However, this is only going to be happening if there is just a small amount of tape on the box.

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

It is important that you do not remove the tape with water, though. If you soak your cardboard before you take it to the recycling center, then it is going to be unrecyclable.

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

If you take a cardboard box with too much tape on it to your local recycling center, they will reject it. They aren’t going to spend the time peeling the tape off of it, after all.

Is Masking Tape Plastic Free?
In general, masking tape is completely 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 really do much with the tape other than throwing it in your garbage can. We know that doing this is never going to be the preferable option. After all, it is going to 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.

Honestly, if you try to recycle as much as you possibly can, then adding a bit of tape into your garbage can every so often wouldn’t be 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.

Can Gummed Paper Tape Be Recycled?

As you may well know, there is something on the market known as gummed tape. This is essentially paper tape with a vegetable starch on it. When you use the tape, you will have to wet the starch (the tape will come with a dispenser) which will give it that sticky feel. In fact, 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 it is not a chemical, most recycling centers will not have the facilities to do that. In any case, they will probably just have a blanket ban on tape, so your gummed paper wouldn’t be getting through anyway.

That being 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 it won’t be leaking any of those awful chemicals that other tape products are known for.

If you have to go for the eco-friendly option, then we highly recommend that you pick up some gummed paper tape. It is more expensive, but at least you know that you won’t be damaging the environment when you use it, right?

Can You Recycle Masking Tape?

Sometimes. It is paper, after all. The adhesive is not going to be as intense as some other products too, which means that it can be recycled a bit easier. In many cases, you can 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 actually means that it cannot be recycled again and, therefore, 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.


In summary, 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, then try to make sure that you 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 mostly recycled products and are biodegradable for the most part so they have a minimal impact in the long run.