Beyond the Box: Best Eco-Friendly Shipping & Packaging Accessories
Do you ship your products in corrugated shipping boxes? If so, you likely already realize that your shipping box is just the beginning! Boxes require certain accessories, such as packaging tape, void fill and shipping labels. And many brands are focused on delivering a unique and exciting unboxing experience, in which case other accessories also become important - tissue paper, hemp twine, stickers, notecards and more.
Read on for an overview of eco-friendly shipping and packaging accessories, so you can ensure your entire package is sustainable, brand aligned, and eye-catching!
Packaging tape falls into two overarching categories - water activated (or gummed) tape and pressure sensitive (sticky back) tape. Packaging tape also has a variety of different facestock options, including paper-based, paper-based with fiber reinforcement, plastic, bioplastic, and laminated paper.
EcoEnclose offers a variety of different tape options. In general, our recommendation is to go with non-reinforced water activated tape for lightweight shipments and reinforced water activated tape for medium sizes shipments. Why water activated tape? It is the most functional and effective option, meaning you can typically use less of it than pressure sensitive alternatives. Additionally, our non-reinforced WAT is naturally biodegradable, compostable and made with 50% recycled content!
Consider pressure sensitive options if you don't want to invest in any tape equipment and aren't in a position to work through the mechanical challenges of wetting your tape. We typically recommend the Kraft flatback over the cello tape unless you require a see through option. Here is a summary of our tape options, in order of our eco recommendation.
- Non-reinforced Water Activated Tape: Non-reinforced WAT has a paper facestock, so the facestock itself actually gets recycled along with the corrugated of the shipping box. The starch-based adhesive easily dissolves and separates in the repulping process. The two downsides? (1) Water Activated Tape is difficult to use without a dispenser, and automated dispensers can be pricey. (2) Non-reinforced means that it isn’t strong enough for very heavy, large shipping boxes.
- Reinforced Water Activated Tape: This tape has many of the same ecological benefits as non-reinforced tape, with one major drawback. This tape is reinforced with fiberglass, which is an added (non-renewable) contaminant compared to the option above. This fiberglass is screened out during the recycling and remanufacturing process, and the screened out components are landfilled.
- Kraft Flatback Tape: Kraft Flatback tape has a paper-based facestock. However, the adhesive does not separate from the facestock or the corrugated box as easily as Water Activated Tape during the repulping process. This means the facestock and the adhesive is likely separated during the remanufacturing process and then landfilled. Kraft Flatback Tape is extremely strong and can be used readily without a dispenser.
- Cello Tape: Cello tape has a cello-based facestock, a cellulose material likely made from trees. While Cello Tape on its own has some standout qualities - cello is renewable, biodegradable - it is not as sustainable an end of life choice as the three options listed above when actually used to tape up corrugated boxes. The facestock and adhesive are non-paper and would be screened out in the repulping process and then landfilled.
Learn more about the most eco-friendly packaging tape here.
Protective Packaging & Void Fill
The term “void fill” or “box filler” is used to describe cushioning, padding or paper that is added to a shipping package (usually a shipping box) to keep goods protected in transit and/or create a beautiful presentation for recipients. If you're shipping fragile items or any items that might move around in your box, void fill is essential. Void fill typically fills at least one of four functions:
- Cushioning: Creating a soft cushiony layer at the bottom and/or top of your shipping box. Cushioning prevents your products from scuffing and getting minor damage in transit and adds a soft layer of protection.
- Individual Product Protection: Fragile items (like pottery) should be individually wrapped in void fill before placing in its shipping container.
- Void Fill: Filling empty space in your package to hold products in place (also know as blocking and bracing).
- Dust & Scuff Protection: Some items or situations, such as a dress shirt shipped in a corrugated box, call for basic dust and scuff protection.
EcoEnclose has a number of different protective packaging options:
- Packaging Paper: We have six different thicknesses and options for Packaging Paper. All of our packaging paper is 100% recycled, curbside recyclable and naturally biodegradable.
- GreenWrap: An expandable honeycomb void fill option that is SFI certified virgin paper, curbside recyclable, and overall a gorgeous and plastic-free alternative to bubble wrap.
- Corrugated Bubble: Made with shredded corrugate scraps, making it upcycled and recycled, naturally biodegradable, and curbside recyclable!
- Flexi-Hex Air Sleeves: Recycled lightweight honeycomb sleeve that ships flat and expands to be wrapped around fragile items.
EcoEnclose is proud to offer a variety of unique and innovative eco-friendly shipping labels, including:
- Zero Waste Direct Thermal: Direct thermal labels that come on a 100% recycled, curbside recyclable release liner.
- Zero Waste, 100% Recycled Sheet Labels: White 100% recycled paper labels, one 100% recycled, curbside recyclable release liners, which can be used with any inkjet and toner printers.
- Kraft, 100% Recycled Sheet Labels: Kraft colored 100% recycled paper labels, one 100% recycled, curbside recyclable release liners, which can be used with any inkjet and toner printers.
- High Tack Direct Thermal: While these aren't an eco-friendly option (they are virgin paper facestock on a standard nonrecyclable release liner), we offer them because they have extra strength adhesion, which works beautifully on certain substrates - such as our 100% recycled padded mailers.
Decorative tissue paper and ornament shred are wonderful ways to add a sophisticated and luxurious addition to your packaging. We offer white and kraft tissue paper, as well as designed tissue paper. And of course, all of these options are 100% recycled.
Both look beautiful, and offer a small bit of cushioning and protection. Depending on where a person lives and what their waste management provider requires, these can be curbside recycled or composted.
Stickers and Notecards
Custom branded stickers and branded notecards can provide the perfect final touch, to help add personalized flair to your unboxing experience. We offer stickers and notecards that are 100% recycled - the most eco-friendly options on the market.
Finally, hemp twine, wrapped around tissue paper, packaging paper, or your products can add a gorgeous, natural finish to your shipment.
Custom Branded Shipping Boxes
While printing your boxes isn't an "accessory", no piece on box accessories would be complete without highlighting the benefits of custom branding your shipping boxes to showcase your brand and tell your story! You can custom brand shipping boxes for minimums as low as 250.