Water Activated Carton Sealing Tape
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Applicable to all non-custom printed tape.
EcoEnclose offers several eco-friendly carton sealing tapes, including two types of Water-Activated Tape.
Water-Activated Tape (WAT) feels dry but is then reactivated by water. It is tamper resistant and, unlike Pressure Sensitive Tape, it cannot be peeled off a box and must be broken. It requires less material per seal than Pressure Sensitive Tape leading to equivalent or even lower total cost.
WAT would ideally be used in conjunction with a special dispenser that applies the water for activation. EcoEnclose offers high quality dispensers that range in price and level of automation. Once this type of dispenser is purchased, utilizing WAT is typically more operationally efficient than pressure sensitive tape. Explore our Pressure Sensitive Tape for lower-volume applications.
Check out our Guide to Eco-Friendly Packing Tape to learn about how to choose a sustainable packing tape and packing tape end-of-life.
WATER-ACTIVATED TAPE OPTIONS
Non-Reinforced: Certified recycle-friendly. Ideal for presentation style ecommerce boxes that weigh 10 lbs or less. Available blank (50% recycled content) and custom branded (no recycled content).
Reinforced: Reinforced with fiberglass. Ideal for presentation style ecommerce boxes that weigh 20 lbs or less. Available blank, pre-printed with our "Thoughtfully Eco-Friendly" design, and custom branded.
Need Heavy Duty? Contact us! Ideal for wholesale shipments, we have WAT options for boxes up to 60 lbs.
Renewable plant-derived adhesive & backing
Water-activated corn starch adhesive
Custom brand this tape! Order today.
Read our art specs and requirements prior to placing your custom branded order. Learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Water-Activated Tape vs Pressure Sensitive Tape
There are two main categories of carton sealing tape. Water-activated tape (WAT), also known as gummed tape, is a form of paper tape with a water-based chemical adhesive that is reactivated by water. Water-activated tape can be found in plain Kraft paper or with several layers of paper and fiberglass reinforcement. When the water-activated adhesive is applied to a carton, a capillary action bonds the tape to the carton. Pressure-sensitive tape (PST) consists of film and a tacky substance that adheres to a given surface when light pressure is applied. Most tapes you use at home - masking tape, duct tape, Scotch tape – are all PST.
This handy chart shows the pros and cons of each type of tape. Bottom line: WAT is stronger, tamper evident and performs well under all weather conditions. EcoEnclose uses WAT for its outgoing shipments for this very reason, because we typically ship out heavy boxes. However, for most small businesses that ship fairly lightweight items, PST is typically sufficient and allows for simpler operations.
| ||Water Activated Tape||Pressure Sensitive Tape|
||Extremely tamper resistant, as it cannot be peeled off and must be broken. If you’re received a box sealed with water activated tape, you know this! No box is completely tamper resistant though, as a fresh layer of tape on top of the tampering can hide this.
||Less tamper resistant, as pressure sensitive tape can be peeled off.
||Provides a strong seal. Typically, the box itself will break well before the tape will.
||Seal is not as strong; though is sufficient for most standard, lightweight boxes.
|Ease of use
||Requires tape to be activated by water, ideally with special dispensers designed for WAT.
||Tears easily by hand. Not compatible with a dispenser due to the high-tack adhesive.
||Often (though not in the case of EcoEnclose’s WAT), it is more expensive per foot than its PST counterparts. However, many argue that less WAT is used because of the strength of its seal, leading to equivalent or even lower total cost. Again, WAT would ideally be used in conjunction with a special dispenser, so it does have a higher up front cost than PST.
||Often (again, though not in the case of EcoEnclose’s tape options), it is less expensive per foot. however, people often double seal or use more tape than is needed leading to higher actual cost of use.
||WAT’s adhesive or strength does not change in cold or heat.
||PST’s adhesive effectiveness sometimes decreases in extreme – hot or cold – weather conditions.
The vast majority of packing tape is made with virgin materials. Additionally, options (like some of our ours) are technically industrially compostable and/or recyclable. However, when you’re looking for the most sustainable tape option, it is important to understand the disposal process for the material. The majority of boxes in the US are recycled (rather than composted).
The process of recycling corrugated boxes involves churning it up with water to make a slurry. In this process, adhesive and any polymers rise to the top and are skimmed off and disposed of. For this reason, the majority of materials in packing tape are likely to end up in a landfill, even if they are technically recyclable or industrially compostable. Therefore, we recommend focusing predominantly on how tape is made when choosing the most sustainable option.