Choosing Between Plastic Tape & Paper Tape: Key Questions To Ask

By: Better Packages on January 1st, 1970

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Ultimately, reaching the right answer regarding whether plastic pressure-sensitive tape or paper water-activated tape is right for a company’s purposes starts with asking the right questions. For example:


What is being shipped?

What a company is shipping should be a major factor in its packing tape selection. Organizations that ship low-weight, low-value products may not need a tape that provides superior performance. If that is the case, plastic tape may be the right choice. On the other hand, companies that put heavy or high-value product into the distribution network are wise to invest in shipping materials proven to help ensure safe delivery.


How important is productivity?

For companies that only prepare and ship a handful of cartons each day, packer productivity may not be important. This low volume might be easily handled with pressure-sensitive tape and a tape gun. At higher volumes, however, water-activated tape can provide a competitive advantage. As noted above, independent testing has shown that employees are 21 percent more productive when using water-activated tape. Both in terms of the amount of product that goes out the door each day and how much work a company is getting from its shipping team members, that number is significant.


What environmental conditions will shipped packages encounter?

There are at least three environments a package will encounter on its journey: the packing site, one or more transportation vehicles, and the destination site. Plastic tape does not perform well in cold, dusty, or humid conditions. The longer a package spends in those kinds of environments, the more likely the tape is to fail. Paper tape maintains a secure seal in virtually any environment that a package might find itself in. Hot or cold, damp or dry, the bond formed between the tape and the carton surface remains strong.  


Is there value in a “clean” presentation?

Here again, the answer, obviously, is “Yes!” No company wants a recipient to wrinkle their nose at the sight of a package that looks sloppy and carelessly prepared. Unfortunately, the more strips of shipping tape that are required to seal a package, the harder it is to maintain a neat appearance. One strip of gummed paper tape can seal a box and ensure that it arrives at its destination securely closed and with a look that reflects well on the company that sent it.


Is brand awareness important?

It would be rare to find an organization that would say that brand awareness is not important. Even well-known companies with solid reputations need to support their positive image. Plastic pressure-sensitive tape typically is not branded. This means that it does nothing to keep a company top-of-mind with anyone who sees the package. Paper water-activated tape, on the other hand, can be branded in many ways, which provides many benefits. One of the most important is that custom-printed Kraft tape turns the carton into a dynamic “mobile billboard” that can introduce the company or further develop its brand.


The Company (or Companies) Behind the Product

After a company decides on plastic pressure-sensitive tape or paper water-activated tape there is another decision to be made: which provider to work with. It is very important to look into the organization behind the product.

How long have they been in operation? Companies benefit from working with a provider that knows the business, and that has been around and will be around to support future needs.

Is dispensing packing tape a major component of their business, or just one small aspect in a large product line? There is much to be said for a provider that specializes in a particular product and knows it inside and out.

Another factor to consider is whether other companies have chosen to work with the provider, and if so, which ones? Seeing highly regarded national and international brands on their customer list is a good indication that they provide exceptional products and services. Large companies have plenty of resources to focus on vendor research, and they never settle for second-rate suppliers.


The short answers above make a strong case for water-activated tape, and there are many other resources available that elaborate on them.