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Definitive Guide to Tissue Paper

compostable tissue paper

 

Did you know when you wrap your products in decorative tissue paper before boxing them up to be shipped, their perceived value increases by 24%? That's right, customers love tissue paper!

But what is tissue paper? How should you use tissue paper for your eCommerce shipments? What is the difference between eco-friendly tissue paper and traditional options? Can and should you custom brand your tissue paper? Read on for all of that guidance...and more. If you'd rather talk than read, feel free to contact us anytime - we'd love to guide you through eco-friendly protective packaging, so you can see if tissue paper is right for your brand.


 

 

Tissue Paper for Packaging

stock sustainable tissue paper design

Tissue paper is an extremely lightweight paper that is slightly translucent and extremely pliable. Because decorative tissue paper is lightly calendared, it does not contain the “fuzz” that some types of paper give off, making it a great internal wrapping solution to protect items from dust and scuffs.

Tissue paper is also aesthetically pleasing - whether it is white, Kraft, or custom printed - making it a great choice to add a personal and stylish touch to a gift or shipment. 

But first, what makes tissue paper different from standard paper or packaging paper? This is largely due to the way it is manufactured, which allows for the paper to be so thin and so smooth. Tissue is produced on a unique paper machine fitted with a Yankee cylinder. The Yankee cylinder is sprayed with adhesive to make the paper stick to it. A doctor’s blade then scrapes the dry paper off. The thinness, creping and wet strength of tissue paper is controlled by the amount and strength of adhesive, the pulp used, additives that are put into the pulp, the speed at which the machine is being run, and the shape and size of the doctor’s blade.

 

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Eco-Friendly Tissue Paper

sustainable tissue paper

A web search for “sustainable tissue paper” results in so many options and definitions. Frankly, we believe many of the companies pushing their tissue paper options as eco-friendly are greenwashing, simply trying to paint their offering as sustainable even though they could - and should - be doing better.

For tissue paper to be truly eco-friendly, we believe it should build as closely as possible to our Sustainable Packaging Framework.

Seek out tissue paper that is:

  • 100% Recycled. And made with as much post-consumer waste as possible.

  • Recyclable. Product is recyclable (when facilities accept tissue paper) and compostable (for the small group of waste management providers that ask you to compost rather than recycle your tissue paper). Tissue paper should be free of glitter, foils, and other non-paper additions.

  • Processed Chlorine-Free (PCF). Recycled paper is processed back into paper without chlorine or chlorine derivatives and is either not re-bleached or bleached with an oxygen-based system.

  • Printed with Minimal Ink. Ink coverage should be relatively low and water-based inks or soy-based inks should be used. When ink coverage is high or the entire sheet is dyed a different color, these pigments can make recycling and composting more contaminated. Digitally printed tissue paper has hit the market; however, these are often printed with toner ink, an ink type that contains polymers (plastic) that adhere to the substrate. While the upside of digitally printed tissue paper is that it can be printed at much lower minimum order quantities, the downside is your tissue contains tiny plastic particles. At low ink coverage, this is fine for recycling; but we hate the thought of this getting composted and leaching into our soils.

  • Transparent Manufacturing Supply Chain. Tissue paper, like all packaging, is often produced overseas, in manufacturing facilities that provide very little transparency into their labor conditions, ethics, and environmental processes. The process of making tissue paper is water and heat-intensive and can be challenging for workers, so this level of transparency is critical. 

You’ll frequently find tissue papers purporting to be “sustainable” only to find that they are 100% virgin, digitally printed, and/or are made in nontransparent manufacturing operations. Some companies may focus on FSC certified tissue paper. While we agree that FSC certified tissue paper is far better than virgin paper that comes from unknown sources, it is much better for the environment to focus on 100% recycled. FSC certified paper is still coming directly from a tree (whose stored carbon is released into the environment when it is cut down), and FSC-certified wood can still come from ancient and endangered forests.

EcoEnclose tissue paper is 100% recycled, made with 20% post-consumer waste, processed chlorine-free, printed with water-based inks, manufactured in the USA in a facility we have visited, and free of all plastic, foil, glitter, and other additives that can contaminate recyclers and composters. It is also FSC certified; however, it comes from 100% recycled inputs. Shop Tissue Paper or Order A Free Sample.

 

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Acid-Free Tissue Paper

acid free tissue paper for artwork

We get a lot of questions about whether or not our tissue paper is acid-free.

First off, yes, our tissue paper is acid-free and pH neutral. But some people call in simply wondering if they need to care about acidity levels.

Why is acidic paper a big deal?

  • Standard paper made from wood is acidic (caused by natural lignin deterioration). This makes standard paper break down over time rendering it unusable for long-term storage purposes.
  • Acidic paper can introduce acid into items that are stored in it causing those items to also break down over time. 

Therefore, print and photograph sellers typically need acid-free tissue paper to ensure no acid is introduced into their creative paper-based pieces (which may cause the piece to degrade). 

Paper can be made acid-free based on the pulp that is used or through processes applied when recycled paper is repulped. Rest assured that our tissue paper is acid-free and pH neutral, making it a great solution for any business shipping out their artwork and photographs.

 

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Tissue Paper Bleaching

recycled paper bleaching process

EcoEnclose tissue paper is processed chlorine-free, which means that it is not bleached during the paper recycling and repulping process. 

Why are bleaching and chlorine a big deal?

Up until just 30 years ago, paper mills used elemental chlorine to bleach pulp. When that chlorine is combined with the lignins (i.e. the “glue” in wood, it produced furans and dioxin (a carcinogen) that ended up in wastewater. This led to EPA requirements for paper mills, requiring them to phase out elemental chlorine. Most mills now use chlorine dioxide, which produces fewer dioxins. The idea of paper being produced “ECF” or elemental chlorine-free, is a standard that is relevant only for virgin paper (and frankly, simply says that the paper is produced in ways that meet the EPA’s minimum requirements). Unfortunately, no paper mills in the US are currently able to eliminate chlorine from their bleaching process. 

The concept of PCF applies to recycled paper. Paper that is processed chlorine-free uses peroxide, oxygen, or ozone to bleach the recycled pulp, and uses no chlorine. While not all paper needs to be bleached (our Kraft paper mailers and corrugate require no bleaching), any white or light paper does, so we are proud that our tissue paper is 100% recycled and PCF.

 

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Comparing Colored, White, and Kraft Tissue Paper

solid color recycled tissue paper

Do you know you want custom tissue paper? If so, shop our 100% recycled, eco-friendly custom tissue offering. If you’re still on the fence, read on. 

When it comes to stock, unbranded tissue paper, EcoEnclose offers two options - white tissue paper and Kraft tissue paper

A quick web search reveals tissue paper in a countless variety of colors. Yes, tissue paper in solid vibrant colors looks great and makes a lovely addition to packaging or gift bags. 

However, colored tissue paper solutions aren’t as sustainable when it comes to end-of-life. Tissue paper needs to be recycled or (where recyclers don’t accept tissue paper) composted. Tissue paper with such high levels of ink and pigment poses challenges to paper repulpers and brings pigment contamination into the compost (which eventually becomes part of our soils). We’re biased, but we also think the simple aesthetic of white and Kraft tissue paper is beautiful, and create an earthy look to your final package.

 

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When To Choose Custom Tissue Paper

decorative recycled tissue paper

Regardless of whether or not it is branded, tissue paper adds a level of sophistication and luxury to the unboxing experience. A Package inSight study showed that 76% of respondents are more likely to recommend a brand that wraps package contents in tissue paper.

But, we know that custom tissue paper, branded with your logo or design, can take that a step further. That same study showed:

  • Items wrapped in decorative tissue paper inside a package were valued 24% higher than the same items packaged with traditional void fill.
  • 77% of participants felt joy or surprise at the sight of branded tissue paper.
  • 86% of participants reported that their impression of a brand was improved when packaged with branded tissue paper.

It’s not hard to believe when you see custom tissue paper in action. It is a wonderful experience to open a package and see the item you've been waiting for wrapped up in elegant tissue paper.

custom tissue paper wrapping

At EcoEnclose, we offer three tissue paper paths. All are 100% recycled, made in the USA, and use with water-based inks when printed. 

  • Plain: Available in Kraft or white for a clean and crisp aesthetic.
  • Pre-Printed: Stock designs to spruce up your packaging quickly at a low price.
  • Custom: Branded with your unique logo and design.

Choose your best option based on your budget, desired minimum order quantity, and commitment to eco-friendly inks. 

Plain

Pre-Printed

Custom

recycled white tissue paper ecofriendly recycled tissue paper design sustainable custom tissue paper
1 Ream Minimum 1 Ream Minimum 10 Reams Minimum
Starting at $17.50/Ream Starting at $74.02/Ream Starting at $78.29/Ream
Ships in 1 - 2 Days Ships in 1 - 2 Days Ship Time Varies
Shop Now Shop Now Shop Now

 

Digitally Printed Tissue Paper

digitally printed recycled tissue paper

Digitally printed tissue paper has hit the market; however, these are often printed with toner ink, an ink type that contains polymers (plastic) that adhere to the substrate. While the upside of digitally printed tissue paper is that it can be printed at much lower minimum order quantities, the downside is your tissue contains tiny plastic particles. At low ink coverage, this is fine for recycling; but we hate the thought of this getting composted and leaching into our soils.

EcoEnclose does not currently offer digitally printed tissue paper. Our custom tissue paper is printed flexographically with water-based inks. Learn more about our custom tissue paper art specs & requirements.

 

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Using Tissue Paper in Your Packaging Strategy

There are so many different ways to use tissue paper in your shipments!

For non-fragile items that need dust protection and packaging pizazz, here are some use case ideas to get you started:

  • Wrap items, including books, prints, apparelaccessories, and jewelry.
  • Create a decorative “nest” in a box to lay your products on.
  • Fold over your prints and photos.
  • Bring a decorative touch to retail and gift bags.

When designing your packaging strategy and how you plan to incorporate tissue paper into it, think about how your customer will receive and open the package. How can you use tissue paper to create a fun, anticipatory unwrapping experience?

It is critical to note that tissue paper is not a damage protection solution. It should be used for decorative purposes, dust protection, and scuff protection. It does not serve as a void fill or dunnage, and won’t protect fragile items from breaking. If you are looking to fill spaces in your box or protect fragile items, look for other eco-friendly protective packaging solutions including

  • Packaging Paper: Kraft paper, including one option made with next-gen wheat straw fibers, in a variety of strengths ranging from 30# to 60#.
  • GreenWrap: Expandable plastic-free honeycomb paper that wraps around fragile objects.
  • Flexi-Hex Air Sleeve: Sleeves that expand and wrap around bottles, dishware, and other fragile items.
  • Corrugated Bubble: Upcycled, shredded corrugate that can lay at the bottom or top of boxes or be wrapped around your products.

Check out our Definitive Guide To Protective Packaging & Void Fill for more information.

 

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Tissue Paper Accessories

While tissue paper can easily stand alone as the only shipping accessory you need, we often see companies adding beautiful finishing touches.

tissue paper wrapped in hemp twine

Hemp Twine can be used to tie your tissue paper. Hemp twine is a natural fiber and is naturally biodegradable, and gives a rustic and creative finish to your packaging. Shop Hemp Twine.

 

recycled tissue paper and notecards

Many of our customers also use Custom Notecards, placing their notecards on top of their tissue paper for a true “gift” feel for their customers. Shop Custom Notecards.

 

zero waste custom stickers and tissue paper

A sticker is a stylish way to seal tissue paper and add a brand touch to your packaging without the cost or minimums of custom tissue paper. Shop Custom Stickers and Stock Stickers.

 

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Ornament Paper Shred as a Tissue Paper Alternative

recycled kraft paper shred

We love 100% recycled tissue paper, but we find that a lot of EcoEnclose clients decide to go with our unique Ornament Paper Shred offering instead. Made by slitting rolls of indented Kraft paper, Ornament Paper Shred results in a beautiful decorative paper that can be used to create a nest in a box or bag. 

If you use tissue paper as a bed within a box or bag, we encourage you to check out ornament paper shred as well, in case it works better for your needs and/or is more aesthetically pleasing for you and better matches your packaging vision. Order free samples to compare tissue paper and ornament shred side by side. Shop Ornament Paper Shred or Order A Free Sample.

 

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Tissue Paper End-of-Life - Recycling & Composting

Most tissue paper on the market (including ours) is labeled as recyclable. We are very transparent about the fact that the end-of-life of tissue paper, unlike other paper-based packaging, depends largely on the rules of a person’s local recyclers. However, for a municipality or waste management provider to accept an item for recycling, the provider must have the infrastructure to sort the material and profitable markets to sell into.

Tissue paper is fairly low grade and isn’t always easy for recyclers to find buyers willing to pay for it. Additionally, tissue paper is difficult for recyclers to sort without the correct machinery. Because of this, some recyclers don’t accept tissue paper (even if it is labeled as recyclable), and some of these operations ask that you compost your tissue paper instead - if your municipality has a composting service that can accept it. Learn more.

 

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Contact Us

Learn more about EcoEnclose 100% Recycled Tissue Paper and our entire protective packaging and void fill offering. We are happy to help. Contact Us.

 


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